Q: How Long after My Ablation Will My Symptoms Go Away?

The ablation sometimes kicks up the dust, if you will. So, when we do an ablation, we bother the heart and there’s some irritation. Like with any surgery, when you perform the surgery there’s an inflammatory effect. And, inflammation, it turns out, can cause atrial fibrillation. So, even if the ablation fixes that particular patient’s cause of atrial fibrillation, the resulting inflammation can actually cause recurrences of atrial fibrillation, until the inflammation settles down.

Electrophysiologists refer to that as the blanking period, and that typically lasts for 90 days. So, when someone has a recurrence of atrial fibrillation, in the first 90 days, we don’t worry too much. Now, it may mean that the success rate for that patient is a little lower than someone who had no recurrences, that patient’s atrial fibrillation may go away and never come back again. So we see that inflammatory effect lasting for sometimes weeks and sometimes months. And, there may be multiple episodes of atrial fibrillation and we all get disappointed, we can’t help but do that during that period of time, but sometimes that atrial fibrillation will go away, after the end of the three months. So it really, again, depends on the individual patient when those symptoms are going to go away, but it can last that long.

Some patients their atrial fibrillation may be triggered by alcohol, let’s say. We know that drinking alcohol is a common cause of atrial fibrillation. And no matter how much I fix on my end, if we don’t have that pact that we talked about earlier and patients don’t do their end, it’s possible that we can’t fix the AFib. So, if someone is drinking a bottle of wine a night, or multiple glasses of wine a night, and they know that for them that’s their trigger, until they change their trigger, they may continue to have atrial fibrillation. So, again we have to individualize the answer to that question.

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