Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Post Procedure Care

What Happens After The Procedure?

After the procedure you will wake up in a hospital ward called the recovery area. When you are completely awake you will be transferred to the normal hospital ward. You will have to lie flat for approximately 6 hours after the procedure. During this time, it is important to keep your legs straight and your head relaxed on the pillow. The sheaths or tubes used to insert the catheters into your heart will only be removed a few hours after the procedure, as we will need to wait until the blood thinners have cleared to a degree from your body. Once these tubes are removed you will be started on an infusion of heparin and given an increased dose of warfarin on the night of your procedure. The next day the heparin will be changed back to clexane.

It is usual to stay in hospital for 2 nights after the procedure. Your heart rhythm will be monitored during this time. It is common to have some mild chest discomfort after the procedure. You will also have some discomfort and bruising in the groin and neck area after the procedure. This should usually improve over several days.

When you go home you will need to remain on your usual dose of warfarin and clexane. The clexane will be continued until your INR is between 2 and 4. It is crucial that you maintain your INR at these levels until you are reviewed 6 weeks after the procedure.

The majority of patients have approximately 2 weeks away from work.

In the first 3 months after the procedure you may have episodes of arrhythmia that may arise as a result of the ablation procedure. These may not be of any long-term consequence. These are much more common in people who had longer episodes of atrial fibrillation before the procedure or have other heart abnormalities. It is not uncommon to continue some drugs for this duration to prevent such arrhythmias. If they should be present for >48 hours you should contact the Cardiovascular Centre to arrange a cardioversion.

If you need to be seen in hospital within the first 3 months after the ablation procedure it is crucial that the Cardiovascular Centre is informed and your Electrophysiologist is involved in your care. If you feel unwell or develop fevers it is vital that you inform the Cardiovascular Centre on (08) 8362 2272.

Currently the follow up strategy is really aimed at ensuring the heart heals well after the procedure and that you do not have any atrial fibrillation (whether you notice it or not). In general terms this will involve 4-6 holter monitors over the first year, 1-2 echos and a CT/MRI at 12 months after the procedure. 

  • Professor Sanders says...

    Atrial fibrillation is a consequence of several reversible risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sleep apnoea, and excessive alcohol. Your management of atrial fibrillation must include strict control of these risk factors.