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Cardiac Ablation

What are the risks?

There are risks when you have cardiac ablation, but they are very rare. They include:

  • bruising, bleeding, or damage to the blood vessels in your groin or leg from the catheter – Bed rest for a few hours after the procedure greatly lowers this risk.
  • an abnormal heart beat (arrhythmia) that needs to be treated with cardioversion – Cardioversion is a procedure done while you’re sleeping that shocks the chest to stop the arrhythmia.
  • blood clots – If a blood clot breaks free, it may travel through the bloodstream to your lungs or other organs. You will get blood thinners during or after the procedure to lower the risk of a blood clot.
  • damage to the rest of the electrical system of the heart which can cause a slow heart rate – This may get better over time but if not, you may need a pacemaker.
  • damage to organs inside the body, including the heart – This can happen if the needles or catheters poke a hole in an organ. This may cause air or fluid to leak which needs to be removed right away.
  • damage to a heart valve by the catheters – If this happens, you may need surgery.
  • developing cancer over time – Your healthcare team will use the smallest amount of radiation as possible to help lower this risk.
  • stroke, serious heart attack, or death – This risk is very low. The doctors and nurses who do the treatment and are with you during the procedure have special training in case there is an emergency or something goes wrong.

Current as of: September 20, 2019

Author: Cardiovascular Health and Stroke Strategic Clinical Network, AHS