Ablation is a process that uses radio frequency energy, passed through a tiny tube in your veins, to correct an abnormal heart rhythm. Many abnormal heart rhythms are completely harmless but sometimes they can be more serious – occasionally even fatal.
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Arrhythmia occurs when the electrical signals that control your heartbeat stop working properly. Arrhythmia that originates in the top of your heart can cause symptoms but tends to be less serious. If it comes from the ventricles in the bottom part of the heart, however, it can cause cardiac arrest.
Common symptoms of arrhythmia are:
These symptoms can be the same for all types of arrhythmia, so it's best to consult a doctor if you're unsure.
Ablation of cardiac arrhythmia is a procedure to treat abnormal heart rhythms. A catheter is inserted into your heart and a machine directs energy towards your heart muscle in order to help regulate your heart beat.
While the NHS offers excellent care in this area you may find it hard to see a consultant quickly unless your symptoms are very severe. If you have private medical insurance or are willing to pay for the operation yourself, we can help. You can be referred to one of our respected consultants via your own GP. We can also make sure you see one of our specialised consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
We pride ourselves on our clinical excellence, you'll be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
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Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that your heart is in our hands, and we take caring for it very seriously. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you every step of the way.
You will be anaesthetised so you won’t feel a thing when the consultant threads tubes (catheters) containing electrical sensors into your veins to find out where the problem is. A separate metal tipped catheter is then used to deliver radio frequency waves, which burn away the tissues that are causing the arrhythmia. This blocks the abnormal electrical impulses in that part of your heart.
Sometimes you will need to have a pacemaker fitted because the ablation can destroy your AV node, which is how your heart normally does the job itself.
If you already have a serious heart condition ablation may be performed as part of a larger surgical procedure, but your doctor will discuss all the options with you beforehand.
You should be able to return home the same day but if you had a general anaesthetic you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round under close supervision. After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area, where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
Your friends and family will be able to visit pretty much any time you want – we have flexible visiting hours.
You may feel sore and tight around your chest and in the areas where the catheters were inserted. We will give you pain relief medication while you’re with us and to take home with you. We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
You will be advised on the steps you should take to speed up your recovery and this will depend on whether you had your ablation as part of a larger surgical procedure.
However, you’ll need to spend the first few hours afterwards lying flat on your back and resting. You should arrange to take at least a few days off work. You’ll be able to get back to light physical activities within a week but you won’t be able to do any serious sporting activity or heavy lifting for several weeks.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few days.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your operation we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support you need.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of arrhythmia your have, the type of treatment you are receiving, and other factors such as your general health. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery, we're ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
COVID-19 testing or antibody tests are not available as a standalone service at Spire South Bank Hospital.