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Treating Heart Arrhythmias With Ablation

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How Should I Prepare for Ablation?

The ablation preparation may vary, depending on whether you're having surgical or nonsurgical ablation. These are general guidelines; your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions.

Ask your doctor which medications you should stop taking and when to stop them. Your doctor may ask you to stop certain drugs (such as those that control your heart rate or blood thinners, including aspirin products) one to five days before your procedure. If you are diabetic, ask your doctor how you should adjust your diabetic medications.

Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before the procedure. If you must take medications, drink only with a small sip of water.

When you come to the hospital, wear comfortable clothes. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure. Leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

What Can I Expect During Nonsurgical Catheter Ablation?

The procedure will take place in a special room called the EP (electrophysiology) lab. Before the test begins, a nurse will help you get ready. You will lie on a bed and the nurse will start an IV (intravenous) line in your hand or arm. This is so the doctors and nurses can give you medications and fluids through your vein during the procedure. You will be given a medication through your IV to help you relax. Depending on the type of ablation you have, you may or may not be awake during your procedure. If you are awake, you will be asked to report any symptoms, answer questions, or follow instructions given to you by your doctor. If you are uncomfortable or need anything, please let your nurse know.

The nurse will connect you to several monitors.

After you become drowsy, your groin area will be shaved and your neck, upper chest, arm, and groin will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Sterile drapes will be placed to cover you from your neck to your feet.

The doctor will numb the insertion site by injecting a medication. You will feel an initial burning sensation, and then it will become numb. Then, several catheters (special wires that can pace the heart and record its electrical activity) will be inserted through a small incision into a large blood vessel(s) and/or artery (in your groin, neck, or arm) and advanced to your heart. If you are awake, it is important that you remain still and resist the temptation to raise your head to see what the doctor is doing while the catheters are being placed.

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