25. “I’m six months post CryoBalloon ablation and very pleased. But my resting heart rate remains higher in the low 80s. Why? I’ve been told it’s not a problem. I’m 64 and exercise okay, but I’ve had to drop interval training.”
It’s common after an ablation for one’s heart rate to increase somewhat, but it usually returns to normal as the heart heals. That’s probably because the heart’s nerve endings have been irritated by the ablation. Although I’ve heard of some patients whose heart rate remains higher than it was before ablation. This is an area that hasn’t been well investigated.
We may have to list “increased heart rate” as a possible consequence of an ablation. But, as you have already experienced, it sure beats living in A-Fib.
Exercise to Lower Heart Rate: If your higher heart rate affects you, there are steps you can take to lower it. As you are already doing, long-term exercising at a moderate/high level helps lower heart rate. (I am a fairly fit 75-year-old sprinter. My heart rate over the years has dropped down to the 50s.)
Beta Blockers to Lower Heart Rate: Discuss your increased heart rate with your EP and how it affects you. Ask if short-term use of medication such as beta blockers may help you.
Warning: But only take beta blockers (or medications like them) for a short time, certainly not for life. These type of drugs have bad side effect over the long term. (Bob writes that metoprolol hasn’t lowered his heart rate after ablation.)
Resources Needed: If anyone his run across more research or has insights into this question of higher heart rate after an ablation, please let us know. Thanks to Bob for this question.
If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
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18. “Can I have A-Fib when my heart rate stays between 50-60 BPM? My doctor tells me I have A-Fib. I usually have episodes which last under an hour, but I don’t always have a rapid heart rate. Sometimes when I lie down to go to sleep, an episode comes on. When I check my heart rate, it’s irregular but not rapid.”
In some cases it’s possible to have A-Fib and still have what appears to be a regular heart rate. Your atria can be fibrillating, even though your heart doesn’t beat rapidly. How can that be? When you take your pulse, you’re counting the beats of your ventricles, not your atria. So, your atria can be fibrillating, but your heart beat appears normal.
When listening to your heart through a stethoscope—you’re listening to your ventricles, not your atria.
Let’s say, for example, that you have A-Fib and your left atrium is fibrillating (quivering, beating) around 300 times a second. But in your case, your AV Node circuitry may be functioning very well, like a gatekeeper, to minimize the rate at which your atrial A-Fib pulses affect your heart rate (i.e., ventricular beats).
In another instance, some people have “silent” A-Fib (A-Fib with no symptoms) and appear to be in normal sinus rhythm (NSR). Their Atrial Fibrillation may only be discovered when they have a routine physical exam that includes an EKG. We don’t know enough about silent A-Fib, but untreated, it can kill you. Many people who suffer strokes are later found to have silent A-Fib.
Older people sometimes can have a slower form of A-Fib which can look like normal sinus rhythm, but they still have symptoms such as fatigue-tiredness and difficulty with exertion. Some forms of Atrial Flutter (4:1 ratio or slower) may also look like a normal heart rhythm.
But for most patients, their Atrial Fibrillation appears as an irregular and faster heart rate.