A cardiac ablation is a medical procedure that destroys areas of your heart that might be causing an arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rate. The purpose of the procedure is to allow a normal heart rate to resume. You are usually able to resume normal levels of activity within a few days after the procedure. The main dangers of exercise following the procedure involve not following your doctor's instructions for recovery, and exercising before your body is ready.
You are given a mild sedative to help you relax before the procedure begins. After the sedation takes effect, the doctor performing the procedure inserts a catheter through an incision in a major vessel in the groin, arm or neck. The doctor is able to advance the catheter to your heart with the help of a dye that is visible on x-ray images and proceeds to locate the source of your heart's electrical problem. Energy is then sent through special catheter tips that are aimed at the problem area, destroying tissue and possibly correcting the heart rate.
Following the procedure you will be moved to a recovery room where you need to stay still so health professionals can monitor your bleeding and heart rate for 1 to 6 hours. You might be able to go home the same day, or your doctor might decide that you need to stay overnight at the hospital for additional monitoring. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should be able to resume normal activities at home within a few days of the procedure. If you exercise too soon, you risk aggravating your insertion site and causing bleeding and more discomfort. You also risk increasing chest discomfort and abnormal heart beats, which are a normal part of healing and recovery.
Lifestyle changes such as an increase in the amount of physical activity or engaging in a regular exercise program are necessary to ensure heart health and to treat conditions such as arrhythmia-inducing high blood pressure. Though exercise is heart healthy, make sure you follow your doctor's instructions regarding when you can exercise and the type of exercise that is best for your heart health to avoid potential complications.
Most cardiac ablation procedures are successful, though occasionally, some people need another procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you still have an arrhythmia, resume exercise slowly and with caution as it can cause dramatic heart rate changes. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or changes in your pulse pattern during exercise, stop and call your doctor immediately.