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Ablation Therapy for Heart Arrhythmia: Effectiveness and Risks

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 01:16 AM

An irregular heartbeat is termed arrhythmia. Many conditions like ischemic heart disease, diseases of heart valves, high blood pressure, congenital heart diseases, and inflammation, as well as non-heart-related causes such as high thyroid hormone or some medicines, or age can cause irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. Among various types of arrhythmia are SVT (supraventricular tachycardia), AF (atrial fibrillation), VT (ventricular tachycardia), blockages, and VF (ventricular fibrillation), etc. Arrhythmia is usually treated using a catheter by a therapeutic nonsurgical procedure called cardiac ablation therapy. Let us examine this therapy process and understand its effectiveness and risks.

A Brief Note on Cardiac Ablation Therapy

Cardiac or heart ablation therapy is a growing therapeutic procedure for treating irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia without involving surgery. It involves inserting a catheter in the heart through a vein to check the patient’s heartbeat. In case of irregularity, a treatment called heart ablation therapeutic treatment is prescribed. The catheter emits high radio frequency waves to generate intense heat, which helps to create a scar on a particular portion of the cardiac tissue. This blocks or restricts any electric impulse of the heart that produces irregular rhythm or arrhythmia. This process may take time and can continue for several hours.

Effectiveness of Ablation Therapy for Arrhythmia

Let us discuss the effectiveness of this therapy for various types of arrhythmia.
  • Cardiac ablation therapy in arrhythmia in AF: The effectiveness of the treatment in atrial fibrillation is extremely high, with only a 2 to 3 percent complicacy rate. About an 85 percent success rate is seen in treatment of irregular heart rhythms in AF by catheter ablation therapy.
  • Cardiac ablation therapy in arrhythmia of SVT: This therapy also has high efficacy in irregular rhythms in SVT. The complications involved are also low. In conditions like Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, cardiac ablation therapy is considered a first-line treatment therapy.
  • Ablation therapy for ventricular arrhythmias: Heart ablation therapy is not very effective in irregular rhythms caused in ventricular fibrillation. The irregular rhythms of ventricular tachycardia arrhythmia can be reduced by ablation therapy but only with a success rate of 50 percent.
Risk Involved With Ablation Therapy for Arrhythmia

Though the cardiac ablation therapy for irregular rhythm/arrhythmia is considered a low-risk nonsurgical procedure, there can be some complications involved in it. Some risks of this ablation therapy include:
  • A rare damage to blood vessel caused by the catheter
  • Bleeding, infection, and associated pain caused during or following insertion of the catheter
  • Blood clots can occur in the heart, which might lead to a heart stroke.
  • Stenosis or narrowing of veins carrying blood from lungs to the heart due to the catheter inserted in the treatment
  • Possible puncture in the heart
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Cardiac ablation therapy is a nonsurgical procedure used to study the electrical impulses of a patient's heart via a therapeutic catheter. This helps in determining whether the rhythms of a patient’s heart are normal. For abnormal rhythm, treatment can be provided using ablation therapy.
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 01:16 AM
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