The main goal of any arrhythmia treatment is to restore quality of life. In most people, heart-healthy lifestyle are important parts of managing the condition. However, if your condition is causing significant symptoms and your doctor is recommending other treatment options, be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Preparing for irregular heart rhythm treatment
Your doctor will likely order several tests to evaluate your heart condition before discussing with you the risks and benefits of your treatment. Inform your doctor about the allergies or reactions you have had to medications.
You will be asked to fast the night before your procedure. It is important to inform your doctor about all of the medications you are taking before your surgery, including prescriptions, vitamins, minerals, herbs, drugs, or any other supplements. If you have an implanted heart device, such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, talk to your doctor to see if you need to take any additional precautions.
During irregular heart rhythm treatment
The most common type of irregular heart rhythm treatment is catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation.
During a catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, your doctor will insert an intravenous line into your forearm or hand, and you'll be given a sedative to help you relax. After your sedative takes effect, your doctor will numb a small area near a vein on your groin, neck or shoulder before inserting a needle into the vein and place a tube (sheath) through the needle.
Your doctor will thread catheters through the sheath and guide them to several places within your heart. The procedure usually takes 3 – 6 hours to complete. Complicated procedures may take slightly longer.
It is possible to feel some minor discomfort during the procedure. However, if you experience any type of pain or shortness of breath, let your doctor know.
After irregular heart rhythm treatment
After your treatment, your irregular heart rhythm may recur especially for older people and those with other heart conditions, high blood pressure or a history of difficult-to-treat atrial fibrillation.
You will likely have a follow-up appointment with your doctor about 3 months after your procedure. If your atrial fibrillation does come back, you may now be able to control it with medications. Some people may need another ablation procedure. If you continue to have heart rhythm problems, your doctor may recommend a permanent pacemaker.
Risk/complications of irregular heart rhythm treatment
Side effects of arrhythmia treatment vary depending on the particular treatment, but they can include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, hypotension, heart failure, tremor, headache, depression and seizures. With this is mind, when choosing the most suitable treatment option for your condition, the decision must be made with due consideration of both the potential benefits and the associated risks.