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Ablation continued...

Catheter ablation has its own risks, too. Overall, about 5% of patients have some type of complication, including bleeding where the catheter goes into your body or when it enters the heart, as well as a 1% risk of stroke. And in very rare cases -- fewer than 1 in 1,000 -- an opening can develop between the heart and the esophagus. "That's a life-threatening complication and is fatal about half of the time," Wylie says.

If you're already planning heart surgery, your doctor may skip the catheter and do the ablation while you're in the operating room.

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