Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm associated with increased risk of stroke and heart failure and with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which the doctor threads a flexible thin tube (catheter) through the blood vessels to your heart to terminate (ablate) abnormal electrical pathways in the heart tissue.
The goal of atrial fibrillation catheter ablation is to eliminate the AF by preventing unwanted electrical currents, which typically travel from the pulmonary veins (large blood vessels that carry blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart) to the upper chambers of the heart. The standard ablation technique for accomplishing this goal is called pulmonary vein isolation. Over 90% of abnormal signals triggering AF are located near the pulmonary veins.1
Different catheter-based ablation devices and techniques may be used, including:
Together, you and your doctor can determine which type of catheter ablation is best for you.
Catheter ablation can improve your quality of life and eliminate or reduce symptoms. In some cases, patients may not require further drug treatment after receiving catheter ablation procedure2. Some patients may require more than one catheter ablation procedure.
As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and risks with catheter ablation.
Remember to talk to your doctor about all benefits and risks that are specific to your condition, and any concerns or questions you have. Although many patients benefit from catheter ablation, results may vary. Your doctor can help you decide if it is right for you.
Haïssaguerre M, et al. N Engl J Med 1998; 339:659-666
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