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Who needs catheter ablation?

Mohamed Djelmami Hani, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Your doctor may recommend a catheter ablation procedure if he or she has found that your heart beats too fast quickly at times. This is called an "arrhythmia" or "tachycardia." It is caused by a problem in your heart's electrical system.

Normally, electricity flows throughout the heart in an organized manner and makes the heart muscle contract (pump). Sometimes, the electrical flow gets blocked or travels the same pathways over and over causing a "short circuit." Medicines may help, but in some cases an ablation is the best treatment.

Your doctor may recommend catheter ablation if

  • You have an arrhythmia that medicine can't control.
  • You can't tolerate the medicines your doctor has prescribed for your arrhythmia.
  • You have certain types of arrhythmia, such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome or some forms of atrial fibrillation.
  • You have abnormal electrical activity in your heart that raises your risk for ventricular fibrillation (a life-threatening arrhythmia) and sudden cardiac arrest.

This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.