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What Happens to Your Body After Cardiac Ablation?

If you’re considering or have recently undergone cardiac ablation, you may be wondering what to expect as you recover and resume your daily activities. Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to treat heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), by targeting and destroying the areas of heart tissue that are causing the irregular electrical signals. While the procedure is minimally invasive, it’s important to understand how your body might respond in the days, weeks, and months following the treatment.

Blanking Period After Cardiac Ablation

A ‘Blanking Period’ is often talked about after a cardiac ablation and refers to the first 3 months following ablation. It’s the period where the heart muscle is healing. Initially, the internal muscle areas will be inflamed around the ablation sites, then the inflammation settles as scar tissue forms. During this time, it’s not uncommon for an episode of atrial fibrillation – and it doesn’t mean that the ablation has failed – it just takes time for the tissues to recover and the rhythms to stabilise.

This can particularly be the case for people who have more persistent AFib or had longer periods of AFib prior to the ablation.

Talk to your EP about any episodes of AFib in the 3 months after an ablation. Your EP may want to adjust your temporary treatment plan while you are healing.

Life After Cardiac Ablation

Life after cardiac ablation can vary from person to person, but many patients experience improvements in their symptoms and quality of life. Here are some key aspects to consider as you navigate your recovery and adjust to life after cardiac ablation:

Physical Recovery

After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort or pain at the catheter insertion site in your groin. This is normal and should improve within a few days. Your healthcare team will provide instructions on how to care for the incision site to prevent infection and promote healing.

As you recover, you may be advised to avoid strenuous physical activities for a period of time. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines based on your individual case. Gradually, you can start to resume light activities and gradually increase your exercise level as tolerated.

Managing Symptoms

In the days following cardiac ablation, you may experience some symptoms as your body adjusts to the changes in your heart rhythm. This can include palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath. It’s important to communicate any new or worsening symptoms to your healthcare team so they can monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Cardiac Ablation Medication

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage your heart rhythm and prevent blood clots. It’s important to take these medications as directed and to attend any follow-up appointments to ensure that your treatment plan is effective and safe.

Emotional Well-being

Recovering from a cardiac ablation procedure can be a significant event, both physically and emotionally. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions during this time, including relief, anxiety, or uncertainty about the future. Talking to your healthcare team, as well as friends and family, can help you navigate these feelings and adjust to life after cardiac ablation.

Exercise After Cardiac Ablation

Exercise is an important part of maintaining heart health, and it plays a crucial role in your recovery after cardiac ablation. However, it’s essential to approach exercise after the procedure with care and follow your doctor’s recommendations closely.

Early Recovery Period

In the early days and weeks following cardiac ablation, it’s common to experience some fatigue and discomfort. During this time, it’s essential to prioritize rest and allow your body to heal. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines on when you can gradually start incorporating physical activity back into your routine.

Gradual Return to Exercise

As you begin to feel better, your doctor may recommend starting with light activities, such as short walks or gentle stretching exercises. Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. If you experience any chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath during exercise, stop immediately and if the symptoms persist contact your healthcare team.

Building Stamina

As your recovery progresses, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Aim for a mix of cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, along with strength training exercises to help improve your overall fitness level. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities for one week following your procedure.

Long-Term Exercise Plan

As you continue to recover and regain strength, work with your healthcare team to develop a long-term exercise plan that meets your specific needs and goals. Regular physical activity can help improve your cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of future heart rhythm problems, and enhance your overall well-being.

Returning to Normal Activities

As you continue to recover, you can gradually return to your normal activities, including work, hobbies, and social engagements. It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, especially in the early stages of recovery. Give yourself time to heal and adjust to any changes in your energy levels or physical capabilities. 

While the recovery process after cardiac ablation can vary from person to person, most patients experience improvements in their symptoms and quality of life. By following your doctor’s instructions, attending follow-up appointments, and taking care of your overall health, you can maximise the benefits of cardiac ablation and enjoy a fulfilling life after the procedure.

If you have any concerns or questions about what to expect after cardiac ablation, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team for guidance and support.

For more information and support about life after cardiac ablation, visit AFib Institute.