Side Effects of Heart Ablation

Heart ablation, also known as cardiac ablation, is a treatment which can be used for certain kinds of heart arrythmias. This procedure involves threading a catheter through blood vessels until it gets to the heart. The catheter can then be used to destroy any abnormal heart tissue which is causing the arrythmia. This procedure, like many surgical procedures, can cause certain side effects.

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One of the main side effects of cardiac ablation is that bleeding can occur as a result of the procedure. Patients should expect some minor bleeding or bruising at the site where the catheter is inserted, the Mayo Clinic notes. The bleeding or bruising may be more severe than usual because many patients are put on blood thinners before the procedure to reduce the risk of blood clots forming. Severe bleeding or bruising requires medical attention.

Cardiovascular System Trauma

In some cases the catheter which is used for the ablation can cause structural damage to the cardiovascular system, notes Baptist Health. The blood vessels through which the catheter is threaded can become scraped or punctured, resulting in internal bleeding. In more serious cases the heart itself can be punctured, resulting in internal bleeding. In some cases the blood can pool around the heart, resulting in a condition known as cardiac tamponade, according to John Muir Health.


In many cases, the tissue that is destroyed during a cardiac ablation is not a part of the normal electrical conduction system of the heart, the Texas Arrythmia Institute explains. However, in some cases the ablation itself can disrupt the heart's normal conduction, resulting in new cardiac arrythmias. Severe cases can require the surgical implantation of a permanent pacemaker.

Blood Clots

Procedures that involve the cardiovascular system can result in blood clots as the heart beat is slowed by anesthesia during the procedure, which can promote coagulation of blood cells. . In addition, the catheter can disrupt circulation, resulting in the formation of blood clots. Blood clots can cause localized pain and swelling if they occur in veins. These blood clots can also migrate into arteries, where they can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

Pulmonary Vein Stenosis

Narrowing of the veins which carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart is a common side effect of cardiac ablation, notes John Muir Health. Sometimes this condition does not cause any functional circulatory impairment, but in more severe cases, it can lead to shortness of breath and a chronic cough as blood backs up into the lungs. Severe cases can be treated by placing a stent in the pulmonary veins.

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