So, I have decided to write a post about my SVT Ablation experience, also known as Catheter Ablation. It is now 5 days since I have had my procedure.
About this time last week and only two more nights of sleep to go before my procedure, I was profusely scrolling the internet trying to find out information and people’s experiences. I was a nervous wreck and so I was seeking comfort from the feedback of strangers on the internet.
For those that don’t know what SVT is, it stands for supraventricular tachycardia, which means there are abnormal conduction fibers in the heart which made my heart race and experience nasty palpitation episode, which was exhausting and very distressing. Mine were predominately induced by exercise and I’ve had them for roughly 6 years.
Just an FYI/ disclaimer: though these are not life-threatening, if you do experience something similar please go to your GP ASAP to get yourself checked out – Please do not use this as a symptom checker page, I am only describing my situation.
From the beginning, my GP diagnosed these episodes as anxiety attacks. I downplayed it for years to friends and family and whenever I went to the gym or do anything that increased my heart rate, I would try and talk myself out of it, telling myself it was all in my mind – this always failed funny enough because it wasn’t anxiety, after all, it was SVT.
FACT: these are more common in woman and normally discovered late teens, 20s or even in your 30s. So, as I mention above if you get something similar, you are not going crazy, please seek a GPs advice.
After having countless ECGs and Echos, I requested a stress test as I knew that, in my case, exercise was the trigger. Thankfully, I got referred to the cardiologist again and on the day of my stress test, BINGO, the palpitations happened and my heart raced like it usually did (230bpm). Though very uncomfortable, I was so glad the doctors could finally see on screen my super fast heart rate. It wasn’t in my head after all!
My SVT Ablation experience – before
They gave me two options, either I take beta blockers for most of my life or I have a catheter ablation which has a 95% success rate. So I decided to go for the ablation.
Now, I won’t get into too much detail about the actual procedure as there are tons of information about it online and you have come on here to read my experience.
At 8am I arrive at the hospital and straight away, the nurses asked me to change into these sexy paper pants and gown. Then went through a medical questionnaire. Going through, blood pressure, weight, height, etc, etc.
Around 9am, the nurse makes her first attempt at putting a cannula in my arm – after 4 attempts and 3 nurses later it is finally in. Luckily, I don’t have a problem with needles…
At 9.30am, one of the doctors came over to explain the procedure and to tell me about all the complications. Great… I thought, this is just what I want to hear at this point, NOT. Very nervous, I try and turn on my selective hearing. Plus, they told me all this in the pre-assessment the week before, so I was already aware of the complications.
10am: I was told I was next in line for the procedure (they had 4 that day). My mum and dad were with me and I’m so glad they did as I was a nervous wreck they kept distracting me and making me laugh. Though they couldn’t be in the ward with me, I waited with them in the waiting room just outside of the ward.
10.45am: I was summoned, this is it. My legs were starting to buckle and I could feel the tears in my eyes.
My SVT Ablation experience – During
They walked me into the cold theatre and asked me to get up on the bed. They applied lots of cold pads on my chest, similar to an ECG, only a lot bigger and more. They covered me with these sheets and this big x-ray screen was hovering very close to my chest.
As I needed to be awake, they gave a local anesthetic in my groin, which was a small sharp prick but it wasn’t too bad.
I’m afraid to say, the next part was quite painful, but it was quick, I had 3 cannulas put in as they were going up 3 veins into the heart. He told me to do a big breath and I did but it still was painful, I squealed! So they gave me another local anesthetic and by the time they were putting in the 3rd cannula, I couldn’t really feel it. When they passed the thin wires up to the heart, that was an odd feeling as I could feel it going up my body. It didn’t hurt, it was just uncomfortable.
Immediately, I could tell they were in my heart, as it started to race, I was feeling lots of weird sensations and palpitations. Again, it didn’t hurt but it was uncomfortable and I was quite distressed at this point, so I was glad a nurse was by my side the whole time, holding my hand and kept talking to reassure me that everything was going well.
This probably went on for about 20-25 minutes, however, because I was distressed and nervous, weirdly it didn’t feel long at all.
After this, the doctor said they had found it and that the nurse was going to give me some sedation which would feel like I’ve had a glass of wine. It goes hazy from here as I don’t remember them ablating the area or removing the wires and cannulas – Thankfully!
My SVT Ablation experience – After
Next, I know they were are asking me to help them move me from one bed to another. After this, I remember being back in the recovery room with my Mum by my side. I wasn’t allowed to get up for two hours, but that was ok, I was drowsy and kept dozing.
My groin felt sore, but overall I didn’t feel bad in myself, not as bad as I thought I would feel, my heart was a little giddy but it felt fine. By 6pm I was ready to go home.
Once, I got home my heart felt ok when sitting down but as soon as I stood up I would feel the odd palpitation, but that was to be expected so I wasn’t too concerned.
The next couple of days, I would say my heart was in recovery mode; as soon as I would walk a couple of steps it would race and then I would feel the odd small flutters, so I just walked very slowly and took it easy – a lot of Netflix!
I decided to take a week off work, which I’m so glad I decided to do, as although by the 3rd-day post procedure I haven’t had any more heart racing feelings, I still feel tired when doing tasks like climbing stairs. But I feel stronger and more confident to do more each day.
Let’s hope it’s gone forever. Can’t believe I am saying this but I look forward to going back to the gym and running again!