What to expect

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I have been diagnosed today with wolff parkinson white syndrome from my cardiologist. I was originally diagnosed with a right bundle branch block but my gp got it wrong. I have been advised to get the catheter ablation and am booked in to get the procedure done. I am 24 and think I should get it done while I am fit and healthy. I am just wondering what the ablation is like? How was your procedure and recovery?

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  • Posted

    Hi Kayla,

    I am sorry to hear that you have been diagnosed with WPW. I was diagnosed with it earlier this year at 29. Upon diagnosis, I was prescribed beta-blockers to help reduce the number and duration of my SVT episodes. However, after a few months on them, I realized they were not a long term solution for me. They made me truly exhausted, and I didn't feel like myself. I was also told that WPW could cause complications further down the line, so I decided to do an ablation.

    I had a catheter ablation almost exactly a month ago. The procedure took about four hours and was a bit more complicated than expected, as the location of my extra pathway was difficult to reach. They ended up having to go into the left side of my heart (not a big deal, but it does mean I'm on baby asprin for the next month). They believe the procedure was a success. My understanding is that if that is the case, I should never have WPW-related issues again.

    I will be honest, the ablation was more than I expected. I was quite awake for parts of it, and felt every time they burned my heart and injected me with adrenaline to induce the arrhythmia. I am not sure if that is normal or if it had to do with where my pathway was - I am going to ask about it at my follow-up appointment. Other people I know who had the procedure were a lot more 'out' than I was. All that to say, they will give you twilight anesthesia at some level; however, if they have to induce the arrhythmia to find the pathway, it might be less anesthesia, as the anesthesia suppresses your heart rate and can make finding the pathway more difficult. I would highly suggest you talk with your doctor about how awake you will be and then prepare accordingly. I brought music to listen to, which really helped, and also practiced some meditation techniques. I really don't mean to scare you, but I wish someone had told me in advance that I would be awake and feeling the procedure as I did.

    Finally, the recovery - it is definitely still in process, but each day is better than the last. I feel totally fine, but my endurance is still pretty low. I used to be very physically active, but I am still quite limited. I just introduced a mile walk each day and some gentle yoga to try and start working my endurance back up. I was out of work for a week after the procedure, and I highly recommend taking the time you need. Being patient with myself is a practice, for sure!

    I truly hope that this helps. I had a very hard time finding useful stories of other young people with WPW who had ablations. I know what you're going through - you're not alone. I believe the ablation was the right choice for me, and perhaps it will be for you, as well. Happy to answer any other questions you might have! Good luck!



  • Posted

    Hi Kayla,

    Just wanted to make sure you saw my response below - hope it was helpful!

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