Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

What is ablation?

Premier Health’s Dr. Abdul Wase explains the ablation procedure. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


For some people with atrial fibrillation (A Fib) lifestyle changes and/or medication are not enough to control the rapid heart rate. In these cases, doctors may recommend a surgical procedure called catheter ablation to treat the arrhythmia. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), catheter ablation successfully cures atrial fibrillation (or other arrhythmia) in 90% of patients.

The American Heart Association describes catheter ablation as a procedure that “destroy[s] a small area of heart tissue that is causing rapid and irregular heartbeats.” During the procedure, an electrophysiologist applies radiofrequency energy to burn or cryotherapy to freeze the tissue triggering the irregular heart rhythm. Typically, the area affected is only about 1/5 of an inch in diameter.

The ablation procedure is minimally invasive. Patients receive local anesthetic at the site where catheters are inserted in the groin (sometimes neck or arms). These small tubes are threaded through the veins to specific locations on the heart. Once at their destination, the catheters may be used to deliver electric signals for further testing or apply radiofrequencies or liquid nitrogen to destroy heart muscle tissue.

According to the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), some ablation procedures are used to destroy the atrioventricular (AV) node, effectively shutting down all electrical signals from the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles). When this is done, the electrophysiologist may also implant a pacemaker to regulate the heart rhythm.

Speak with your health care provider to learn more about cardiac ablation.

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

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