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Get ready for an Cardiac ablation to correct irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias)

Following an Electrophysiology ( aka EP study) to assess your heart's electrical activity, and if you are diagnosed with abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmia. Your Cardiologist (or Electrophysiologist) may be recommending a Cardiac ablation. Learn all about this procedure, how to prepare, and what to expect, below

Cardiac ablation (or Catheter ablation) is a non-invasive procedure and requires a much shorter recovery time than an open-heart surgery.

Cardiac ablation is performed to correct irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias).

During an ablation, your Electrophysiologist specialist uses catheters – long, flexible tubes- inserted through a vein or artery in your groin and threaded to your heart.

Cardiac ablation works by scarring or destroying tissue in your heart that triggers an abnormal heart rhythm. In most cases, this ablation will prevents abnormal electrical signals from traveling through your heart and thus stops the arrhythmia.

Electrophysiology (EP) study is a test performed to assess your heart's electrical system or activity and is used to diagnose abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmia. The test is performed by inserting catheters and then wire electrodes, which measure electrical activity, through blood vessels that enter the heart.

Before The Procedure:

  • A lab order will be given to you prior to the procedure so that the required lab work needed by the hospital can be done.

  • Please do not eat or drink after midnight prior to the procedure

  • If on Coumadin or Pradaxa, the nurse will give you instructions as to when to stop that medication prior to the procedure.

  • While in the Heart Care Institute, you will be asked to sign a consent form after your doctor has explained the procedure and risks associated with the procedure.

What to expect the day of the procedure:

The Catheter ablation is performed in the hospital. Before your procedure begins, an IV line will be inserted in your forearm or hand, and you will be given a sedative to help you relax. After your sedative takes effect, your doctor will numb a small area near a vein on your groin. A needle will be inserted in the vein, and a tube called a sheath will be placed through the needle.

The catheter that will be used to preform your ablation will be threaded to your heart through the sheath. A special dye that shows up on X-ray images will be injected through the catheter to help your doctor see the part of your heart that needs to be treated. The catheter has special electrodes at the tips that will be used during the procedure. Once your doctor finds the area of abnormal tissue that’s causing your arrhythmia, he will aim the catheter tips at that area. Energy will travel through the catheter tips to create a scar or destroy the tissue that triggers your arrhythmia.

Following your procedure, you’ll be moved to a recovery area where you’ll need to lie still for four to six hours to prevent bleeding at your catheter site. Your heartbeat and blood pressure will be monitored continuously to check for complications of the procedure. Depending on your condition, you may be able to go home the same day as your procedure, or you may need to stay in the hospital for one to three days.

If you go home the same day, plan to have someone else drive you home after your procedure

Recovery time after your procedure

The most extreme discomfort following cardiac ablation is usually limited to the standard side effects of anesthesia. Most people feel tired for a few hours after the waking up, but start to feel better once they can get up and walk around, usually 3 to 4 hours later.

You may feel a little sore after your procedure, or bruising in the area where the catheter was inserted. But these discomfort shouldn’t last more than a week. Most people are able to return to their normal activities within a few days of having an ablation.

If you have any questions or concerns before the test, please feel free to call our staff at 951.369.3525


The information contained in this website is presented for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute in any way a consultation with a physician or competent healthcare professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment.


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