Catheter Ablation

Ibrahim Helmy, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.P.

Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist located in Los Angeles, CA & Torrance, CA

Catheter ablation is an effective procedure that can correct arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation (AFib), when medication doesn’t work or you can’t tolerate its side effects. At his offices in Los Angeles and Torrance, California, board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist Ibrahim Helmy, MD, FACC, FACP, is experienced in performing catheter ablation. To schedule a catheter ablation to correct your heart arrhythmia, call or click today.

Catheter Ablation Q & A

What is catheter ablation?

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that corrects heart rhythm abnormalities, also known as arrhythmias. Arrhythmias result from issues with your heart’s electrical system, which sends impulses to regulate your heartbeat.

The procedure uses a special catheter to scar very small spots of heart tissue that are “triggers” or “hot spots” for abnormal electrical impulses.

Catheter ablation is usually not the first treatment option Dr. Helmy recommends for arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, but it is an effective choice when medication or cardioversion, the“resetting” your heart, don’t work. He may also recommend catheter ablation if you’re at risk of serious complications like sudden cardiac arrest, if your type of arrhythmia is especially responsive to ablation, or if you’re unable to tolerate the side effects of medication.

What should I expect from a catheter ablation?

You’re awake during catheter ablation, but before the procedure begins, you receive an anesthetic and sedative through an IV in your arm so you relax and don’t feel pain. Dr. Helmy then threads catheters from a vein or artery in your groin, neck, or forearm into targeted areas in your heart. He uses a video screen to track the location of the catheters, and though you may feel some pressure where the catheters enter your body, you shouldn’t feel pain.

After threading the catheters, Dr. Helmy sends small electrical impulses into your heart to identify the “hot spots” responsible for your irregular heartbeat.

He then painlessly destroys the targeted tissue so it can no longer transmit electrical impulses. He does this either by freezing the tissue through cryoablation or heats it with low-level energy through radiofrequency ablation. The resulting scarring takes place in a very small area, about one-fifth of a square inch, and your remaining, healthy heart tissue returns to normal function.

The entire procedure takes two to four hours, and you can go home the same day. Be sure to arrange for a ride to and from Dr. Helmy’s office the day of the procedure.

How long does catheter ablation take to work?

The effects of catheter ablation aren’t immediate. It may take up to three months for the targeted tissue to finish scarring so you experience the full benefits of the procedure. That means you may still occasionally experience an irregular heartbeat during these three months, but it does usually go away.

Once you heal, Dr. Helmy assesses how the catheter ablation has helped your arrhythmia. Though you may no longer need to take medication to regulate the rhythm of your heart, Dr. Helmy may recommend continuing to take blood thinners to reduce your risk of developing blood clots. In the long term, catheter ablation is most effective when you follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, including a diet high in fruits and vegetables with regular exercise.

To learn more about catheter ablation and how Dr. Helmy in his Los Angeles and Torrance, California, locations can help you, call or click today.