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July 06, 2018

Stop AFib Cold: Who Benefits from Ablation Procedure?


Stop AFib Cold: Who Benefits from Ablation Procedure?

Does your heart flip-flop and miss a beat? Don’t let missed doses, side-effects and ongoing prescription bills stress your heart. If you’re using medication to manage an irregular heartbeat, commonly known as an arrhythmia, ablation or cryoablation could be an alternative option for you.

Hearts have their own internal electrical system that controls the rate and rhythm of heartbeats. Arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (also called AFib), occur when the signal being sent throughout the heart becomes abnormal and causes the heart to beat out of its normal rhythm. When this happens, your heart may seem to flutter, flip-flop, miss a beat, or you may feel weak, faint and short of breath.

“Your arrhythmia is as unique as you are. There’s no single cause—and not all need to be treated. If you’ve been diagnosed with arrhythmia and it’s affecting your life, you can control the problem with medication or, if it’s right for you, ablation. The advantage of ablation is that it can eliminate the arrhythmia, the need to take medications and let you regain a quality of life. Assembling the right arrhythmia care team is the first step toward managing your condition,” said John Strobel, MD, FACC.

What it does

Ablation is a nonsurgical but invasive medical procedure that eliminates certain types of arrhythmia. It is often preferred to managing some arrhythmias with medication, which may cause unwanted side effects or not control your arrhythmia at all.

How it works

Ablation uses finely-targeted energy or extreme cold to painlessly scar the small areas of heart tissue causing arrhythmia. The scarred area of the heart then stops sending electrical signals to the rest of the heart, eliminating the arrhythmia. It’s a relatively low-risk procedure performed with moderate sedation (not anesthesia) and is performed by a specially-trained cardiologist called an electrophysiologist.

Who it benefits

If you have an arrhythmia, it can weaken the heart muscle, which could lead to heart failure or even a fivefold increased risk of stroke. Medication can help control an irregular heartbeat, but ablation can stop some types of arrhythmia from occurring altogether.

If you have symptoms of arrhythmia, talk to your primary care provider about connecting with an electrophysiologist at IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians, including John Strobel, MD, FACC. Find the perfect primary care provider by calling 812.353.DOCS (3627).

Featured IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians provider seeing patients for Cardiology:

John Strobel, MD, FACC