After catheter ablation

Once the ablation is complete, the catheters and IV line are removed. No stitches are required since no incisions were made. The patient goes to the recovery unit for a while then on to his or her hospital room for a few hours of observation.

Patients may have some soreness where the IVs were removed as well as some bruising. Depending on where the ablation was inside the heart, they may also have some minor soreness in the chest – but not chest pain or shortness of breath.

Most patients go home within a day of the ablation procedure. Before they leave the hospital, Dr Kerwin talks to his patients about medications, activity, and follow-up care. When it’s time to leave, patients should make sure a friend or family member is there to drive them home.

Normal heart rhythm after the ablation

In some cases, the heart rhythm is faster than normal for days to weeks. This can lead patients to believe that the ablation procedure did not work. The easiest way to distinguish this condition from the original heart rhythm problem is that this new condition involves fast heart beating usually in response to exertion and starts and stops gradually. Most heart-racing conditions that lead to the ablation procedure start and stop abruptly and are not consistently caused by exercise.

Heart skips

The other thing that sometimes worries patients is that they still experience extra heartbeats or skips as before the ablation. In fact, before the ablation, it was these skips that started the heart racing. Seldom does the ablation address the spots that produce these extra or skipped beats so they will continue to occur. However, the mark of a successful ablation procedure is that these beats no longer kick the patient into the heart racing. Patients should feel their pulse after these skips to ensure that the heart is not racing. A heart skip that doesn’t turn into a racing heart is a very good sign that the ablation was a success.