Follow-Up After Your Ablation

Initial Follow-Up Appointment

Expect to be contacted by your electrophysiologist’s office to schedule a follow-up appointment. If you have not been contacted within a week, call the office.

You will be seen by your electrophysiologist at regular intervals. During these appointments, your doctor will check on your symptoms, ask you about any changes in your condition and review the results from the event monitor.

Event Monitor

An event monitor is a portable device you carry with you in a pouch or on a shoulder strap. After your ablation procedure, you will wear this device for two-week periods at three, six and 12 months. You press the record button whenever you experience anything you think is abnormal, such as rapid heartbeats, dizziness or chest pain. The monitor also detects and records episodes automatically. The results from the event monitor will help both you and your doctor have a better understanding of the success of your procedure.

For your follow-up appointment, make sure you bring:

  • Your medication list and your medications in their original packaging
  • A list of any questions or problems you want to discuss

What Is a Successful AF Ablation?

AF ablation is not a cure for atrial fibrillation. The main purpose is to significantly reduce the number of episodes of atrial fibrillation and the severity of the symptoms.

For some people, there will be no episodes of atrial fibrillation for many years, but it may come back.

Some patients may be able to stop taking some of the anti-arrhythmia medications.

Important Note: Even if your AF ablation procedure is successful, you will likely still need to take anticoagulant medications to reduce the risk of having a stroke.

AF ablation is not always successful the first time.

The reasons for this are not fully understood. The current thinking is that:

  • The ablated areas may recover and start generating abnormal signals again.
  • Some of the areas generating the abnormal impulses remain hidden during the procedure.
  • New abnormal areas may develop after ablation.

Depending on the type of atrial fibrillation, the possibility of success after the first procedure is shown here:

Type of AF Success Rates After the First Procedure
Paroxysmal AF 60 to 80%
Persistent AF 40 to 60%

If your first ablation procedure is not successful, your electrophysiologist will usually recommend a second ablation. Occasionally, a third ablation may need to be considered.

If AF ablation is not successful after three procedures, then your electrophysiologist will usually discuss different options with you.