Catheter ablation for SVT

Posted , 11 users are following.

I thought I would post my recent experience of the above in case anyone else is wondering whether to have this procedure and what it will be like.

Like many people posting on this site, I have had occasional episodes of very fast heart beat for most of my adult life as far as I can recall. These always started with a sensation like changing gear in a car followed by pounding heart beat that could last up to an hour. No other symptoms particularly but these attacks were very frightening at the time. No apparent triggers either - they never happened when I was particularly stressed oddly enough. Fortunately I never had one whilst driving. Sometimes I could stop them by coughing or blowing out hard through my lips, other times nothing worked and I had just had to wait for things to get back to normal. I had loads of tests a few years ago but wasn't told that I had any particular condition. I was told that I had the heart of a much younger person but to go back to my GP if the attacks increased. They were never captured on ECG as they always disappeared before I could get to a hospital or the doctor's surgery.

After a gap of about 18 months to two years, I had a prolonged attack early in 2007, at three and a half hours the longest ever, and my doctor referred me back to the consultant I had seen previously. Whilst waiting for that appointment I had two further attacks on consecutive days and another three days later. The consultant then told me that I most likely had SVT and recommended a 'procedure' that I now know to be ablation and referred me to Harefield Hospital.

I had EPS study, this is the bit where they locate the sight of the abnormal pathway, and then an ablation at Harefield Hospital in October 2007. I think I was lucky, the whole thing only took one and a half hours. The staff were fantastic and did everything possible to put me at my ease. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but be more than a little apprehensive. I found it helped to explain this to the medical staff who provided even more reassurance as we went along. Afterwards I had to lie down for about three hours but was able to have a very welcome cup of tea and piece of toast, also lunch! I was then allowed out of bed but the wound in my groin bled a bit. I had to lie down for another spell and the next time I got up it was fine so I was allowed out that evening.

Some things to remember whilst having the procedure:

[b:2b084a2e50]It will probably be cold in the room as the equipment has to be kept cool. This may make you shiver!

The drugs that are given to speed up your heart may make you shake even more than your nerves do!

The doctor, radiologist and consultant if he/she is there shout out to each other whilst the ablation is being done - things like 'go down a bit', 'are you happy with that', '321 ablating', 'stop'. It's a bit like the Golden Shot if you are old enough to remember that, but with lots of technicla bits thrown in. This can be a bit unnerving - it was for me because my imagination went into overdrive, but actually I think it meant that things were probably going OK. It is important that they stop ablating at the right time and this must be the reason for all the 'stops'.

Although I think many people are given a sedative whilst the ablation is being carried out I wasn't. I think this may have been because it didn't take long. I wish I had asked if I could take my IPod as some soothing music might have helped me to relax. We were discussing this and the staff thought it was a good idea so it is worth asking if this would be OK.[/b:2b084a2e50]

I am now four days post procedure and the only thing that is holding me up is the bruise in my groin. This is huge and a very fashionable shade of purple and it gets a bit uncomfortable if I stand for too long so I am taking it easy this week but expect to return to work next week.

My heart felt very calm as soon as the procedure was finished. I have noticed that other odd flutters and bumps that it seemed to do nearly every day and which I assumed were normal have now disappeared and I am no longer aware of my heart beating at all for 99% of the time. I was advised that I might get odd pains and short episodes of fast heart beat whilst it is healing but I have hardly been aware of anything like this. The doctor who carried out the procedure said that there is a 95% chance I will have no further problems but I will keep my fingers crossed for a while at least as I am aware that some people have to have the procedure done again.

I cannot praise the staff at Harefield highly enough. The hospital is spotless and every possible hygiene precaution is taken. It seems I have had this condition all my life, it has taken me 56 years to get rid of it but looking back it was very straightforward really!

I hope this will be useful to you. Good luck!

6 likes, 14 replies

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi I was very pleased to read your account. I am having the ablation at Papworth on Monday 3rd Dec. I am 43 and had this condition for 30 years similar to yourself.

    I must admit I am very anxious about it. You see I have learned to live with SVT but am worried that if the ablation goes wrong I could be worse off!

    Also how long did it take you to be able to get back to normal?

    What was it like when they sparked off your SVT during the procedure?

    I am very nervous amd go through spells of wanting to withdraw from the treatment but keep telling my self it will be worth it

    I value any news you can give me.

    Julietee

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  • Posted

    Thank you for sending this , I know it is over a year ago. I have just agreed t an oblation today for an SVT and am very nerwous, has anyone got any tips or reassurance they can give me. 
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    • Posted

      Not sure if you've had your ablation or not yet, if so i hope it went well, if not well there's nothing to worry about. Your imagination is worse than the procedure itself and what people predict. I had my ablation Saturday 14th November 2015. I can honestly say it wasn't what I thought. After the nurses took my info they gave me a velcro pajama top and bottoms and some 'fashionable' paper underpants to put on. They then put a cannula in my arm (better veins than my hand). I waited with my wife for about 2 hours and they called my in. I walked a very short distance to the 'Cath Lab' and sat on the end of the bed while they stuck a cold metal pad to my lower back, I think thats something to do with the X ray. There's a hand full of people in there, nothing to worry about. One guy hooked up an ECG to me whilst the surgeon sterilised the equipment. I was told to lay down and they placed 3 squared quite small X rays over my chest (this is so they can see the wires in your heart and also if you want to watch, you can). They injected my groin with the local anesthetic to numb it for the catheter. I was given one shot of very mild sedation because my cardiologist didn't want it to mask my heart rate, so I was fully aware of everything. They reassured me that they are in complete control of my heart (they really actually are). They wires were then inserted into my groin (painless) you can slightly feel a sensation, nothing at all bad. I then felt the wires enter the heart, I asked if it definitely was the wires and they reassured me it was and that any sensation I feel Is them doing it, and that if anything anything at all changes even if it's oxygen level they can see it on the many monitor's. When the wires entered my heart heart it felt like indigestion and my heart felt like an SVT was about to start (which is normal) within minutes one doctor told me he was going to feed a drug through my cannula to speed my heart and monitor where the electrical impulses were coming from. They did and it felt like my usual SVT episode but a bit harder (my SVT got to 280bpm prior to op) they stopped it immediately after they found where it came from, it was my AV Node (AVNRT). They told me they found it and now they're going to ablate it. It did feel very odd and uncomfortable (not unbearable). They tried to set off the SVT again with that medicine and they couldn't. He said he's done and he's confident that it's 95% cured. After the catheter was pulled out (painless and seconds after ablation this is done) I was almost immediately sent to recovery for about 20 mins. I had to lay flat for about 6 hours and leg straight to prevent bleeding. Because my wound was healing pretty fast I was allowed to raise my head after 4 hours. My groin had pretty much stopped bleeding after 6 hours post op and felt fine to I was discharged the same day at 6pm to rest at home. I have to take those horrible Bisoprolol tablets 2.5 (I was already on for 6 months) and aspirin for 6 weeks then I can come off them. I really do feel fine and honestly it was a lot better than I had anticipated.
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  • Posted

    I was diagnosed with SVT two year's ago but the symptoms were infrequent enough and manageable so my doctor agreed that doing nothing was perfectly acceptable.  In my case, symptoms have been a racing heartbeat (190 - 205 bmp) while doing aerobic exercise (jogging, cross country skiing) but I have learned how to restore the bmp to a normal rate fairly quickly.  I decided to see if it was time to consider catheter ablation only because the rapid heart beat incidents had become more regular while jogging, etc. this fall.  So, I have an ablation scheduled for late January of 2016 but now I am having second thoughts.  The reason is that occurrences of an elevated heart rate while exercising (jogging) have seemingly gone away over the past 4to 6 weeks.  Not sure why as I've gone back to drinking as much caffeine (a likely trigger in my case or so I've thought) as I used to drink, etc.  I hope to finally be cross country skiing in the next couple of weeks which will be a better test.  If the SVT incidents don't resume while skiing, I'm wondering whether I shouldn't cancel the ablation.

    have any of you had the symptoms appear regularly and then disappear just as quickly?

    Thanks for any and all feedback.

    Jim

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    • Posted

      I have had SVT for approx 15 years now.  Initially the attacks were infrequent.  Sometimes when I had caffeine, bent over etc and sometimes not... there was no one thing I could say triggered it.  Then it began to notice trigger... caffeine, alcohol which were cut out...Things settled down for a while. I was initially offered ablation but was too freaked out by it and said no.. Have been on beta blockers and this controlled it fairly well.  If an episode started it was easily reverted using valsalva or carotid massage.  It was usually every second year I would have a run of big episode requiring adenosine to revert.  2015 was a different story.  It seems everything triggers an episode.  Bending over, laughing even.... I have had more and more frequent episode and it is starting to affect my life.  I have travelled overseas in March and was anxious about whether it would kick off in the plane... jetskiing what if it happens in the middle of the ocean... camping in the middle of nowhere. It is now controlling my life and limiting what I do for fear of an episode. My medication has been doubled now and the side effects are horrible. After having two episode in a week required ED presentations whilst I was at work, (and I am a midwife in a birthing unit)  I am having ablation done next Tuesday.  I am nervous and scared and my 25 year old daughter is scared and worried too.  I am looking forward to be free of this thing that is causing havoc at the moment.  Don't cancel... I thought like you did... it was infrequent and manageable.... it takes on a life of its own eventually.  Get it done while you are young and healthy and enjoy what you do without worrying about whether your activities with trigger and episode.  
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    • Posted

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Melissa.  I really appreciate all the feedback & knowledge gained through this site!  

      At at least for now, I am going to hold off on the ablation.  My doc says either choice is reasonable in my situation and would not be a mistake either way.  Yes, at nearly 58, I am very healthy currently and that could change.  However, I work hard at staying in good shape so I'm willing to hold off for now as I expect to stay healthy (I know: we all do).  If and when my symptoms return and/or  worsen to the extent that my quality of life suffers, I won't hesitate to reschedule.

      Best wishes for your ablation surgery that is fully successful and a full and quick recovery.

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    • Posted

      Your story sounds so much like mine. You are the first of many patients I have read that requires adenosine. I have needed it every time. I have had it about 6 times. This last time it took 3 doses. I am scheduled June 16th. It can not come soon enough. Although I am very concerned and nervous. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Posted

    I too had the ablation procedure, but it didn't take.  They could not find the right valve to cut off.  After that, I was given diltiazem, which kept it in check for a while.  Then they prescribed half a dose of the diltiazem again in the evening and that worked for several years.  Now I'm starting to have the SVT attacks again every few days, but am now suspecting the tea I'm drinking has more caffiene that I realized.  Also, like most of you, motion triggers an attack:  bending over, raising my hands above my head, etc.  So when I drop something, I've had to retrain my self to stoop, not bend and if I have to reach high, get a stool or something to stand on in order to reduce the elevation.

    Laying on my left side most often works, but it's not immediate.  I just have to relax and wait.  I will keep trying some of the techniques mentioned in this blog and appreciate the sharing.

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  • Posted

    Well i had ablation about 5 days ago now... everything went well and they ablated the AVNRT. .. no bruising or pain at all. The past two days now i have been having hard beats or thumps like i did prior to the svt starting. It is very uncomfortable and making me anxious. I am also exceptionally tired and sometimes short of breath. I don't know whether it was worth it yet... go back to work this week and that is making me feel worried. Is this all normal?
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    • Posted

      I just had my ablation this past Friday.  I felt very well and now in day 3 I am experiencing some palps and strangeness in my neck.  I had very bad episodes prior to this and they came on in the last couple of months. Mine was found during a stress test and the EKG was able to record the SVT event while I was on the tread mill.  I was lucky cardiologist was able to see it. I was referred to EP dr.  and from there it was strongly suggested I do the cardiac ablation.  My surgery was five hours.   I wound up having the extra connection on my left side which took longer to ablate.   I was told that I might feel some skipped heart beats and some discomfort but over the next few weeks and months it should subside.  I just don't know if I should be feeling it this much or this strong. I seem to experience it more when I start to move around more.   I feel the same as you do!  

       

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  • Posted

    I was very interested in your account of your operation as my wife is due to have the procedure in June. I am pleased that your procedure was a success but the latest two posts do not seem so reassuring. This is the dilemma we find ourselves in; she is due to have the procedure at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and they sent a booklet entitled 'Catheter Ablation for SVT' which made us think whether the risks are worth the benefit of being free of her palpitations and associated symptoms of feeling light-headed, short of breath, chest pain, etc. On one occasion she passed out while standing causing some injury to herself. Her palpitations are irregular and she does not take medication on a continuous basis to control the SVT, only when she gets an attack. The risks and associated percent chance are well documented in the booklet and while low, they are not insignificant. She has had her palpitations for a number of years and they vary in their severity; on most occasions when she gets an attack, she will take her medication, rest up for a while and then be more or less back to normal. On other occasions the attacks can be quite debilitating requiring much longer to recuperate. We would welcome any feedback that would help us make a decision one way or another either to continue with the operation or to cancel.          
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    • Posted

      Since I made a video I've spoken to so many people who have had this operation. I've not heard of anyone having complications. I would take reassurance in that. The biggest issue I hear, and this is what happened to me, is that they go in and are unable to fix.

      For me they know is in the atrial aide which is much riskier. 80 percent of people don't have it in that part which is reassuring for others. Unfortunately for me they were unable to induce my SVT so couldn't not locate the issue. However this pinpointed that the issue is in the atrial.

      The op is really not bad at all. I would not lie. Even though mine was not successful, I'm glad I went through it. My SVT happens on a daily basis and I'm not leaning towards having the risked op. Life is too short to be living such a restricted life due to this condition. I hope your wife's operation is successful and she is soon free of her SVT. I'm sure my video will help her X

      Emis Moderator comment: I have removed the link(s) directing to site(s) unsuitable for inclusion in the forums. If users want this information please use the Private Message service to request the details.

      http://patient.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/398331-private-messages

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    • Posted

      Thank you sarah29743, your response is most helpful. Since the Moderator has removed the link to your video I will use the Private Message service as stated. 
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  • Posted

    Thank you for your post it was very reassuring my daughter who is 21 is going into kings in two weeks time to have the small operation I feel very comforted a parent to read your experience I will pass this on to my daughter to read as both my husband and I were very worried Regards Denise Hughes
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