After Catheter Ablation | Cleveland Clinic (2023)

After Catheter Ablation

We wish you a speedy recovery from your catheter ablation. Here is some important information for when you return home.

Some Discomfort

You may feel discomfort at the catheter insertion during the first 24 hours after the procedure. The doctor will tell you what medications you can take for pain relief. You may also experience mild chest discomfort, mild shortness of breath and fatigue after the procedure.

Heart Rhythm

Many people feel extra heartbeats, a racing heart, or skipped heartbeats on and off for a few weeks after the procedure. Sometimes, you may feel as if your abnormal heart rhythm is starting, but then the symptoms stop. You may also have mild shortness of breath or fatigue.

(Video) Cardiac Ablation: The Sooner, the Better

These symptoms are all normal and should subside within 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. However, please tell your doctor or nurse if your symptoms are prolonged or severe, or if your abnormal heart rhythm reoccurs.


You may need to take an antiarrhythmic medication to control abnormal heart beats for 2 months after the procedure.

Ask your doctor if you should keep taking the medications you took before you had the procedure.

(Video) Catheter Ablation vs Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy in Atrial Fibrillation CABANA – What did we learn

You will receive the necessary prescriptions and medication instructions from your doctor.

Care for the procedure site

You may take a shower. However, avoid water temperature extremes. Do not take a bath, swim or soak in water for 5 days after the procedure or until the incision sites have healed.

Keep the procedure site clean and dry. Do not scrub the area. You do not need to keep the area covered with a bandage. Do not use creams, lotions or ointments on the procedure site.

(Video) It’s Not Just HOW You Do but WHEN You Do an Ablation

Look at the area daily to make sure it is healing properly. If you notice any of the signs of infection, please call your doctor.


These activity guidelines should be followed the first week after your procedure:

  • Do not lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds.
  • Avoid activities that require pushing or pulling heavy objects, such as shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn.
  • Stop any activity before you become overtired.
  • You may resume your normal exercise and activity routine 1 week after the procedure.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can resume driving, go back to work, usually within a week after you go home. If you have the flexibility at your job, ease back to your regular work schedule.

Telephone transmitter

You may receive a telephone transmitter for home. You will receive instructions for use of the transmitter and frequency of transmitting from your health care team.

(Video) What should I expect after the atrial fibrillation ablation procedure?

Follow-Up Appointments

A Cleveland Clinic follow-up appointment will be scheduled after your procedure. Follow up timing depends on the results of the procedure. You will receive a reminder card for this appointment. However, if you don’t receive an appointment notice within 3 weeks after your procedure, please call 216.444.6697 or 800.223.2273, ext. 46697 to schedule this appointment.

If you are still experiencing your arrhythmia at the time of your follow-up visit, you may need a repeat ablation.

You may also follow up with your local physician.

(Video) Catheter Ablation: What is it and how does it help an irregular heart beat?

When to Call

Please call right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below.

  • Lump develops at the catheter insertion site or increases in size
  • Abnormally low blood pressure (systolic reading less than 90 mm/Hg)
  • Symptoms become worse or more frequent
  • Signs of infection at the wound site:
    • Increased drainage, bleeding or oozing from the insertion site
    • Increased opening of the incision where the device was implanted
    • Redness, swelling or warmth around the device insertion site
    • Increased body temperature (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.4 degrees Celsius)

For any questions or concerns, you can call the phone number on your magnet or discharge instructions to speak with a registered nurse. After hours, you can contact the hospital operator to speak to the EP-Fellow On-Call.

(Video) Cardiac Catheter Ablation: What to Expect


Are there any restrictions after an ablation? ›

Most people can return to their daily activities within a few days after having cardiac ablation. Avoid heavy lifting for about a week.

How long does it take to fully recover from a catheter ablation? ›

The ablated (or destroyed) areas of tissue inside your heart may take up to eight weeks to heal. You may still have arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) during the first few weeks after your ablation. During this time, you may need anti-arrhythmic medications or other treatment.

What can I expect after a catheter ablation? ›

Expect to be tired and out of it, with some chest soreness and discomfort, for a day or two. It is common to experience afib, heart palpitations, and/or an increased heart rate after any heart procedure. That generally subsides once your heart heals, usually within three months.

What is the follow up after cardiac ablation? ›

Initial Follow-Up Appointment

You will be seen by your electrophysiologist at regular intervals. During these appointments, your doctor will check on your symptoms, ask you about any changes in your condition and review the results from the event monitor.

Do and don'ts after heart ablation? ›

After catheter ablation, you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for at least three days. Talk with your provider about when it's safe to return to physical activity. After surgical ablation, you'll spend about a week in the hospital.

Should you walk after an ablation? ›

Avoid exercise except walking for 2 days. You can go for easy walks unless your doctor has told you not to. Avoid strenuous activity for 1 week e.g. jogging, cycling, swimming, or lifting anything over 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). If you had an ablation, you may notice a burning in your chest.

How long does fatigue last after cardiac ablation? ›

You may also have mild shortness of breath or fatigue. These symptoms are all normal and should subside within 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. However, please tell your doctor or nurse if your symptoms are prolonged or severe, or if your abnormal heart rhythm reoccurs.

Why am I so tired after my catheter ablation? ›

Cardiac ablation is done under general anesthesia. Although the medications used during general anesthesia wear off after a few hours, it is not unusual to notice fatigue and grogginess during the ablation post-op period. Usually, this resolves in the first day or two after the procedure.

How long does it take the groin to heal after cardiac ablation? ›

The doctor or nurse will cover the opening in your groin where the catheters went in (called the insertion site) with a small dressing. This area should heal and close in 1 to 2 days. Most patients will be able to go home the same day as the procedure.

Does AFib always come back after ablation? ›

After a successful catheter ablation, those with lone a-fib are less likely to have a recurrence. But some lone A-Fib patients do have recurrences. (Some studies estimate a 7% chance of recurrence out to five years, though most recurrences occur in the first six to 12 months.)

Is it common to have AFib after ablation? ›

Recurrent AF after catheter ablation occurs in at least 20 to 40% of patients. Repeat ablation is primarily considered for those with symptomatic AF recurrences (often drug-refactory) occurring at least 3 months or more post-ablation.

How often does AFib recur after ablation? ›

Recurrence of atrial fibrillation (AF) after catheter ablation remains common. Most recurrences occur in the first 6 months after ablation, but even after 1 year, an annual recurrence rate of 5%–9% has been described.

How long do you stay on blood thinners after cardiac ablation? ›

After an ablation, people typically take a blood thinner for a minimum of two months, says Dr. Ellenbogen. Because of this, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin and Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), may be limited in order to reduce the risk of bleeding.

What is the life expectancy after an ablation? ›

The median time from ablation to death was 11.6 days (interquartile range [IQR] 4.2–22.7).

Do you still need blood thinners after cardiac ablation? ›

Catheter ablation, which destroys a small area of heart tissue that's causing the problematic beats, is recommended for high-risk patients. Patients typically continue to take blood thinners, regardless of whether the ablation procedure was effective.

How do you sleep after a heart ablation? ›

If you have pain, take your pain medication about ½ hour before bedtime. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position and decrease muscle strain. Avoid napping too much during the day. Remember to balance activity with rest during recovery from open heart surgery.

How long does it take to know if cardiac ablation worked? ›

Some ablations work straight away. Some ablations, we need to have a blanking period of three months or so to decide whether the treatment has worked.

How soon can you drive after a cardiac ablation? ›

The procedure always requires an overnight stay. You will not be able to drive for 24 hours. You should also not lift, push or pull anything more than 10 pounds for 3 days following the procedure.

Is heart ablation major surgery? ›

What is catheter ablation, exactly? Catheter ablation is a minimally-invasive technique intended to cure atrial fibrillation without major surgery.

How long will I have chest pain after ablation? ›

It is common for patients to have some chest pain for 1 or 2 days. It is typically described as chest tightness that gets worse when taking a deep breath. This pain is caused by inflammation from the ablation. It should subside within a few days.

How painful is a heart ablation? ›

Pain and Discomfort

Some patients may report a feeling of tightness in the chest, or feel pain whenever they cough or simply take a very deep breath. Some patients who undergo severe ablation treatment emerge with no chest pain at all. The second source of pain stems from the insertion of the catheter.

What are the negative effects of an ablation? ›

Complications of endometrial ablation are rare and can include:
  • Pain, bleeding or infection.
  • Heat or cold damage to nearby organs.
  • A puncture injury of the wall of the uterus from surgical tools.
Dec 20, 2022

Does catheter ablation affect blood pressure? ›

It may also cause transient shortness of breath, cough or high blood pressure. Reasons: ablation catheters deliver saline (salt water) with each burn; anesthesia often requires saline infusions to maintain blood pressure, and the heart can be stunned after ablation.

Where do they enter groin for ablation? ›

Ablation procedure

Normally 2 needle holes are placed in vein at the top of the right thigh in the groin area through which catheters are passed and positioned in the heart. The catheters are positioned using X-ray, ultrasound, and a computerized 3D mapping system to guide placement.

How do you take care of a groin after an ablation? ›

your groin, your leg should remain still and you should not bend your leg or sit up. doctor, and on their recommendation, you may then cautiously get out of bed. clean the skin with mild soap and water and dry carefully. but you may shower.

How do I get rid of AFib forever? ›

There is no cure for persistent atrial fibrillation. But treatment can slow or prevent symptoms, making it easier for you to manage the condition. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol can also help reduce abnormal heart rhythms and prevent complications.

How do you stop AFib from coming back? ›

The basics include not smoking, following a heart-healthy Mediterranean-style diet (high in plant-based foods, fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated fats), being physically active and keeping to a normal weight (as indicated on a body-mass index chart).

Does ablation permanently fix AFib? ›

Does Ablation Cure AFib? AFib may go away for a long time, but it can return. It's rare, but if you have persistent or chronic AFib, you might need a second ablation within 1 year. If you've had AFib for more than a year, you may need one or more treatments to fix the problem.

What causes AFib to return after ablation? ›

In the setting of early recurrences after atrial fibrillation ablation, reconnection of one or more of the previously ablated pulmonary veins is thought to be the culprit and repeat ablations provided incremental benefit for rhythm control.

What is very early recurrence of AFib after ablation? ›

Early recurrences of atrial fibrillation (ERAF) have been reported in up to 50% of patients within the first 3 months of AF ablation. Although these arrhythmias do not indicate therapy failure, they are associated with a higher AF recurrence rate over the long term.

What happens if you're in AFib for a long time? ›

Untreated AFib can raise your risk for problems like a heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, which could shorten your life expectancy. But treatments and lifestyle changes can help prevent these problems and manage your risks.

Does AFib ever disappear? ›

Episodes of atrial fibrillation may come and go, or they may be persistent. Although A-fib itself usually isn't life-threatening, it's a serious medical condition that requires proper treatment to prevent stroke.

What is considered permanent AFib? ›

If it's left untreated, the condition can progress to the persistent or permanent types. Permanent AFib means that your condition is chronic despite treatment and management. The persistent stage of AFib is serious, but it's treatable. Learn what you can do about persistent AFib to help prevent further complications.

What percentage of AFib is permanent? ›

Permanent AF occurs in approximately 50% of patients, and paroxysmal and persistent AF in 25% each. AF is frequently associated with cardiac disease and comorbidities.

Can eliquis be stopped after ablation? ›

Atrial Fibrillation Patients May Safely Discontinue Blood Thinners after Successful Ablation.

Can you live with AFib without blood thinners? ›

While patients who have elevated stroke risks may be able to manage symptoms of AFib — such as a racing heartbeat — with other medications or medical procedures, they will still need to take blood thinners to protect against stroke.

Do you need bed rest after ablation? ›

After radiofrequency catheter ablation of arrhythmias, patients have to bed rest for 4-6 h to prevent bleeding and hematoma. However, such a rest may cause back pain in the patients.

Why is ablation a last resort? ›

Your health care provider may recommend AV node ablation if you have atrial fibrillation that hasn't improved with medication or other treatments. It's generally considered the last option because it requires the placement of a pacemaker.

Can you live a normal life after ablation? ›

After a successful catheter ablation procedure, most people can return to a normal, active lifestyle and experience improvement in their quality of life.

How serious is catheter ablation? ›

Catheter ablation is a safe, effective treatment for AFib and certain other arrhythmias. Although rare, the risks of these procedures include: Bleeding, infection, and/or pain where the catheter was inserted. Blood clots (rare), which can travel to the lungs or brain and cause stroke.

What problems can you have after a catheter ablation? ›

In the days after the procedure, you may experience mild symptoms such as an achy chest and discomfort, or bruising in the area where the catheter was inserted. You might also notice skipped heartbeats or irregular heart rhythms. Most people can return to their normal activities within a few days.

Can you have a stroke after cardiac ablation? ›

Conclusion: Although there is an increased risk of stroke in the immediate post ablation period, late strokes are less common, and the total risk of stroke is similar in patients undergoing ablation compared to matched patients treated with cardioversion.

Does ablation stop irregular heartbeat? ›

Cardiac ablation is a procedure that scars tissue in your heart to block irregular electrical signals. It is used to treat heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).

What not to do after endometrial ablation? ›

Do not to douche, use tampons, or have sex for 2 to 3 days after an endometrial ablation, or as advised by your health care provider. You may also have other limits on your activity. These may include no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.

What can you not do after a nerve ablation? ›

Don't drive or do anything strenuous for 24 hours after the procedure. After a day or two, you can return to your normal activities, including bathing or showering. You may still feel soreness, pain or muscle spasms at the treatment site for a few days.

Do I need time off work after endometrial ablation? ›

Most women need between two and five days before they feel able to return to work, although this will depend on the type of job you do. If your work is physically demanding, it is advisable to return gradually, doing less physical work or fewer hours for the first couple of days.

What is your first period like after an ablation? ›

You may have period-like cramps for one to three days after an endometrial ablation. You may have light bleeding or pink discharge for a few weeks after. It's usually heaviest on Day 2 and Day 3 after you've had the procedure.

What is post ablation syndrome? ›

Study Objective. PATSS is a complication that potentially occurs following a global endometrial ablation in women with previous tubal sterilization. PATSS presents as cyclic pelvic pain caused by tubal distention from occult bleeding into the obstructed tubes.

Can ablation make things worse? ›

Some discomfort following the procedure is expected, but your pain should not get significantly worse after radiofrequency ablation. If you experience severe pain, your pain gets worse over time, or you have symptoms of an infection, it's important to contact your doctor.

Are nerve ablations worth it? ›

Many have found radiofrequency nerve ablation to be 70-80% effective for those who have had successful nerve blocks. Patients will experience pain relief as soon as ten days after treatment, and it can last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years.

Can you walk after nerve ablation? ›

Because radiofrequency ablation is minimally invasive, you should be able to get up and walk around right after your treatment. We do recommend that you ask a trusted friend or family member to drive you home.

How much does an ablation cost? ›

Specific Uterine Ablation Procedures and National Cost Averages
Price Range
Endometrial Ablation Cost Average$4,200 - $11,600

Is it worth having a heart ablation? ›

Ablation can relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life in people with atrial fibrillation. But it doesn't work for everyone. If atrial fibrillation happens again after the first ablation, you may choose to have it done a second time. Repeated ablations may have a higher chance of success.

How do you sleep after cardiac ablation? ›

If you cannot sleep following heart surgery, try these tips:
  1. If you have pain, take your pain medication about ½ hour before bedtime.
  2. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position and decrease muscle strain.
  3. Avoid napping too much during the day.


1. Cardiac Catheter Ablation: What to Expect
2. Frank's Story: Care After a Cardiac Ablation
(Rush University System for Health)
3. Atrial Fibrillation and Catheter Ablation | NEJM
(NEJM Group)
4. Avoiding Complications During Atrial Fibrillation Ablation - Dr. Munger, Mayo Clinic
(Mayo Clinic)
5. Ablation and Heart Arrhythmias
(Cleveland Clinic)
6. Higher Cardiorespiratory Fitness Linked to Better Outcomes Following Atrial Fibrillation Ablation
(Cleveland Clinic)
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