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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!
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