Can Catheter Ablation Successfully Treat Atrial Fibrillation?

Traditional treatments for atrial fibrillation involved prescribing drugs associated with serious and unpleasant side effects

Now there is an advanced treatment available for atrial fibrillation – a technologically enhanced version of catheter ablation – that has previously only been suitable for a different type of arrhythmia known as Tachycardia.

Catheter ablation is performed by a specialist doctor known as an electrophysiologist

The procedure involves using a probe that is inserted into the groin, and is fed upwards through the blood vessels until it reaches the heart. An electric current is then passed through the probe that heats the surrounding tissue that is responsible for disrupting the electrical signals around the heart. This restores the normal electrical impulse transmission through the heart muscle, and is a successful treatment in most cases.

Until recently, this technique was not suitable for treating atrial fibrillation, as there are multiple sources of electrical signal disruption associated with this condition, whereas with Tachycardia there is usually only a single source of electrical signal disruption, making it easier to target with the treatment. New technology has allowed the catheter ablation treatment to be successfully applied to cases of atrial fibrillation, and, since 2007 has been providing sufferers of atrial fibrillation with a permanent solution to this distressing heart problem.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation

Heart palpitations are a form of arrhythmia that can be a symptom of atrial fibrillation, and can be a frightening experience. For many of us it’s the only time that we are reminded that we have a miraculous, beating, blood pumping machine inside our chest, that we are totally reliant upon to keep us alive.

When the normal heart rhythm is disrupted for whatever reason, and the heart starts to beat irregularly, we can start to panic, fearing that our heart may stop beating altogether and we will imminently die.

Heart arrythmia are often mis-diagnosed or are not treated with the seriousness they deserve, as primary healthcare providers are often unaware of the symptoms or that specialist treatment centres are now available.

Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common forms of heart arrhythmia

It can affect around one million people in the United Kingdom of all age groups. Sufferers experience distressing symptoms of rapid and irregular heart beat, accompanied by shortage of breath and dizziness. It is a serious condition, that left untreated can double the risk of dying from heart failure. It has also been shown to be a factor in triggering up to one third of strokes. The longer it is left untreated, the more serious it becomes.

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