(TORONTO, ON) – The Long Waiting Game. I have seen a plethora of statistics on the success of an initial cardiac ablation anywhere from 70% to 89%, but the explanations fail to define what success is for a cardiac ablation.
Does it mean an entirely normal heart rhythm for the rest of your life and without any cardiac drugs? Does it mean normal heart rhythm for a certain length of time?
Does it mean reduced episodes both in length of time and severity?
I’m a greedy fellow and success to me means regular heart rhythm with no cardiac drugs. I suppose that is the pinnacle of success.
Success of a cardiac ablation is, therefore, subjective.
Essentially you, the patient, need to make the ultimate determination of what is success.
My cardiologist seemed to suggest short episodes of A-Fib that I could adapt to, psychologically knowing that they would be short, would indicate success. Not quite my idea of success, but short episodes certainly beat ones lasting seven hours.
The length of time to determine success is a long one. Why is this?
Firstly, it takes three months for the heart to heal from an ablation and, during this time, you continue to take your regular cardiac meds.
Secondly, after the heart heals, your cardiologists may wean you off your cardiac meds for a month or so and then say cold turkey.
- A Fib Part 1: Warning Signs And The First Attack
- A Fib Part 2: The Journey From Atrial Fibrillation To Cardiac Ablation
- A Fib Part 3: Welcome to the New Epidemic
- A Fib Part 4: The Risks
- A Fib Part 5: The Only Logical Choice
- A Fib Part 6: Short Term Disability Issues
Now, most Canadian ablation veterans will have been on a highly toxic, but relatively effective, drug called amiodarone. It is so powerful it will take three months to flush out of your system.
So, now we are up to seven months post-ablation before a true hint of success or failure will be manifested.
Psychologically, this seven-month marker is potentially fraught with anxiety as, if A-Fib hits, you are not on any drugs to mitigate an episode. You are hanging on the ledge.
Now, as a last comment, remember the statistic I’ve seen that a second cardiac ablation results in a 95% success rate. An ablation seems like a game of blackjack. Odds.
Thinking positively, I want the house to win on this blackjack game, as you know the house always wins, and I’m the house.
As Jim McKay said years ago, on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” A-Fib Part 8 may just cover this six months from now.