Whether you are getting an ablation or receiving a device such as a pacemaker or an ICD, you should know what to expect before, during, and after a procedure. Ask the right questions and be prepared for your appointment and recovery period.
Before the Procedure
Some questions you will want to ask your doctor in preparation of a cardiac procedure might include:
- Are there any medications that you should start or stop taking before surgery?
- Are there any recommendations or limitations on what you should or shouldn’t eat and drink before the procedure?
- Where should you check in on the day of your procedure?
- Where should your family or friends wait for you during surgery?
We usually recommend that patients arrive at the hospital at least three hours before their procedure is scheduled to begin. You will need to fill out some paperwork and be prepped for your procedure. Make sure that your face is free from any makeup and remove any polish from your fingernails or toes. It’s best if patients wear comfortable, casual clothing and leave any valuable jewelry at home.
During the Procedure
Ablations are performed in our electrophysiology lab. Patients remain asleep during the entirety of the procedure, and their hearts are constantly monitored. The electrophysiologist will locally numb the areas where incisions will occur.
Several catheters will be inserted through large veins, in the groin.
Some catheters are used to direct energy to the heart tissue and cells that are causing the arrhythmia, aiming to correct the abnormal impulses.
After the Procedure
After the procedure you may remain in the hospital overnight while your heart is monitored. Although you will not have stitches, you will have bandages over your incisions. It is important to limit your movements, especially in your legs, during the first six to eight hours of recovery. You will probably feel tired, and you may experience discomfort in your chest or shortness of breath. These symptoms should be temporary. If they are severe or prolonged, alert your doctor.
After the Hospital Discharge
Once you are approved for discharge you should be able to walk around independently, and any feelings of fatigue, chest discomfort, or breathing struggles should be minor. You will need to ask a family member or friend to drive you home once you have signed out from the hospital. You should spend your first week back home resting. Avoid any physical stress. Don’t try to exercise, perform household chores, or lift anything over ten pounds. After the first week, most patients can safely return to their regular daily activities.