A-Fib Free After Two Ablations Down Under
By Warren Welsh, 2010
My name is Warren Welsh aged 73 years from Melbourne, Australia.
I would like first to congratulate Steve Ryan on his exhaustive work in the creation of this most informative website and to thank fellow sufferers who have contributed with their personal experiences. The author’s own account of his struggle with such a complex form of the disease and his dogged pursuit of an ultimate cure in France was inspirational.
I was diagnosed with paroxysmal A-Fib back in 1998 when I consulted my Doctor after detecting an irregular pulse during a heavy bout of influenza. I was then referred to a cardiologist who confirmed I had PAF and prescribed a low dose of Sotalol. Though I had regained normal sinus rhythm within 24 hours, he advised it was more than likely the episodes would become longer and more frequent as the condition itself worsens with age, eventually progressing to a chronic state. By 2003, 40-50 hour periods of A-Fib were occurring three or four times a year and after 2005 the occurrences had almost doubled.
After purchasing a computer in 2005, I became a regular visitor to this website. The personal experiences and the successful outcome of the treatments available caused me to decide on an ablation. I went back to my cardiologist in late 2006 to discuss the prospect of an ablation. To my surprise he spoke critically of the procedure and advised against it.
By 2009 the A-Fib had become such a burden that I decided to consult a different cardiologist and was referred to Doctor Joe Morton, an Electrophysiologist, who booked me into Royal Melbourne Hospital for an ablation in March 2010. All went smoothly under general anesthesia, apart from a short bout of A-Fib in the recovery room; I was in NSR on discharge. One month post ablation I had a bout of A-Fib which lasted only 15 hours followed by a much shorter episode of just 8 hours 2 months later. Despite the substantial improvement achieved by Doctor Joe Morton, a “new” more gentle type of A-Fib had emerged 8 months after the procedure occurring several times a day. Curiously, on most occasions, I was able to terminate the bouts with moderate exercise. Nonetheless it became clear I would need to arrange a second ablation as soon as possible.
Unfortunately the waiting list at Royal Melbourne Hospital had extended well beyond 6 months, and I was not prepared to wait that long. Late last year (2010),I wrote to Steve Ryan explaining my situation and asking for advice on whom I might approach. As luck would have it, one of the first electrophysiologists on the list he provided, Dr. Rukshen Weerasooriya, had an ablation vacancy at the Royal Perth Hospital on the 27th January, which I immediately accepted.
I was sedated in the O.R. and conscious during the procedure and aware of what was happening. Within a short period of time the problem area was located and ablated. Before discharge the following morning Dr. Weerasooriya attended me and advised that the heart monitor had not detected any arrhythmia overnight. He prescribed a daily dose of Sotalol, (divided 80mg) and one Cartia tablet (aspirin), to be taken until such time as I could be assessed 3 months later, I was then cleared to fly home to Melbourne.
The only discomfort I experienced after both procedures was laying on my back on the Hospital beds overnight, a measure employed to limit movement and help prevent bleeding from the incision made in the groin for the catheter entry. As expected there was some light chest pain during the first 48 hours after the procedures.
I would urge any A-Fib suffers not to make the same mistakes I had by not researching the options. I believe that unless there are special circumstances that might preclude ablation, any advice on treatment that is not directed towards a possible cure should be questioned.
It is now 5 weeks post procedure; I feel great and remain free of A-Fib.
Update: added 1/4/12
Delighted to inform no recurrence of AF or missed beats since second ablation in January 2010.
My gratitude to the website author for his knowledge and support and special thanks for the encouragement I have gleaned from those who contributed with their personal experiences.