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What is atrial fibrillation ablation?

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Quick Answer

Atrial fibrillation ablation is a surgical procedure that treats atrial fibrillation, according to WebMD. This procedure helps to ease the symptoms and improve a patient's quality of life. A doctor recommends an ablation after antiarrhythmic medications fail to treat the symptoms.

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Full Answer

The ablation of atrial fibrillation involves inserting a thin, flexible wire, or catheter, into the groin or neck and directing it to the heart. During the procedure, the doctor destroys the areas in the heart that are producing irregular electrical impulses, states WebMD. A patient receives medication for relaxation while the doctor carries out the procedure. The doctor inserts thin wires called catheters into the veins and directs them to the heart. An electrode sends radio waves to produce heat that destroys the tissues causing atrial fibrillation.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include weakness, reduced ability to exercise, fatigue, lightheadedness and dizziness. Other symptoms include confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in the chest. Atrial fibrillation may be consistent, persistent or permanent, according to Mayo Clinic.

A heart-healthy lifestyle helps to prevent atrial fibrillation and to reduce risk of heart disease. This may include eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol. It also includes reducing stress and anger, using over-the-counter medications with caution, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and maintaining follow-up care, adds Mayo Clinic.

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