Undergoing an invasive heart procedure can be a daunting prospect for most people. The information below shall help to answer the most frequently asked questions.
Feel free to call the office or drop us an email if you still have questions!
In preparation of the invasive procedure, there are typically a number of investigations necessary. These are done to understand either the nature of the arrhythmia (on ECGs) or the structure of the individual patient’s heart (imaging).
Stopping medication or not?
Depending on the type of arrhythmia that is present, the antiarrhythmic medication needs to be paused (eg. for SVT ablation) or can even be continued (typically for atrial fibrillation ablation). We will inform you in detail what is advisable once we know when we can admit you to the hospital. Blood thinning medication is continued without any interruption.
On the day of the procedure
All invasive catheter procedures are only carried out if the patient has been fasted for solids for 6 hrs and for clear fluid for 2 hrs. On the day of the procedure (which is in most cases also the day of admission), breakfast should be skipped and all medication (exceptions see above) should be taken.
Once the patient is admitted to the ward, blood is taken for analysis and medical assessments are performed. Prof. Ernst will come and review all data. The informed consent form(s) will be discussed and last questions can be sorted, before the procedure is carried out in the catheter lab.
After the procedure
Typically the patient has to observe a period of bed rest which can vary from 2-6 hours. During this period, the blood pressure and heart beat is monitored carefully by the nursing staff. Most patients are monitored overnight on the ward.
Before discharge, a number of safety checks are carried out to make sure that no adverse effect has resulted from the invasive catheter procedures. A 12 lead ECG is performed to check the heart’s electricity. In addition, a transthoracic echocardiogram is performed to excluse any fluid collection around the heart. Lastly, the puncture sites are reviewed to exclude local complications like excessive bleeding.
In the first few days, the chance for complications like bleeding at the puncture sites is highest. Therefore, all physical activities including lifting heavy things, running, swimming or biking should be avoided to let the tissue heal. This process typically takes about 1 week. Walking short distances is fine, even up a few stairs should not be a problem. Patients on continued blood thinners are obviously at higher risk for bleeding and should therefore be extra cautious.