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Catheter ablation

Catheter ablation is a keyhole surgery used to treat abnormal heart rhythms

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive (keyhole) operation that can be used to treat various types of heart arrhythmias. Arrhythmia is when you have an abnormal heartbeat, for example if your heart beats too fast or too slow.

Catheter ablation involves identifying and destroying the part of your heart that is causing it to beat at the wrong pace. Removing this tissue causes scarring, which actually protects your heart, preventing the problem from recurring.

If your arrhythmia is causing difficult symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, you might be recommended catheter ablation.

Do I need catheter ablation?

Not everyone with an arrhythmia will need to have this operation. For example, many people find that their heartbeat can be regulated by medication.

To find out whether catheter ablation could be the right choice for you, speak to a consultant cardiologist. They will be able to diagnose your heart problem, evaluate your symptoms, and recommend the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

The cost of catheter ablation will depend on a variety of factors, including which hospital and which consultant you choose, as well as how long you need to stay in hospital. Call today to speak to our advisors and get a tailored quote.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your procedure and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, treatment for heart problems will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

A heart arrhythmia means you have an abnormal heart rhythm. This can mean you have an irregular heartbeat, or it can mean that your heart beats too fast or too slow.

Some heart arrhythmias are due to factors beyond our control, such as age or family history. Others are made more likely by lifestyle factors such as weight and alcohol consumption.

The most common types of heart arrhythmia are:

Atrial fibrillation

This is when your heart beats irregularly and it's faster than normal. It's the most common type of arrhythmia. It becomes more common as people get older.

Supraventricular tachycardia

When your heart rate is abnormally fast even when you're resting.


Where your heart beats more slowly than it should.

Heart block

This causes your heart to beat more slowly than normal and can lead you to collapse.

If you have heart rhythm problems and need cardiac treatment with Circle Health Group, the first step will usually be an initial consultation with a cardiologist. This is a crucial appointment during which your specialist will make or confirm a diagnosis of your heart health, testing for any suspected problems. It's also where we start to get to know you as an individual, which is a really important part of our philosophy.

Your consultant will probably organise a selection of diagnostic tests during this first appointment. Sometimes these can be done on the same day, and sometimes you'll have to come back another day to have them done. It depends on which tests you need.

As well as arranging tests, they will ask you lots of questions about your medical history, your symptoms and what brought you to see us, as well as more personal questions about your lifestyle and interests. We tailor our treatment plans to the individual, so we like to know what's important to you and what you want to get out of your treatment before we make our recommendations.

Once we have the results of your diagnostic tests, your consultant will be able to make a diagnosis and start putting together a treatment plan for you. This will be bespoke to you and they won't make any decisions before discussing them with you in detail.

The length of a catheter ablation procedure will vary from person to person, depending on how many different areas need to be treated. It can range from around 30 minutes to three or four hours.

In cases where the procedure will be shorter, we often give you a local anaesthetic. If we need longer to perform the ablation, we will probably recommend general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep for the procedure. Either way, you should not feel pain at the site of the incision.

Your surgeon will start the operation by making a small incision (cut) into one of your blood vessels, usually in your groin. They will then insert a thin tube called a catheter into the blood vessel and pass it through your body and into your heart, using an X-ray or other imaging technique to see what they are doing.

The catheter can be used to measure your heart's electrical activity, which allows your surgeon to identify the abnormal cells in your heart that are causing your arrhythmia. Once identified, these cells are destroyed using either heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation).

The process of ablation creates scar tissue in the affected area or areas, which can prevent future arrhythmias by blocking that part of your heart from sending signals.

There are risks associated with any operation, however complications from catheter ablation are rare. Most people find the surgery successfully corrects their arrhythmia.

Potential complications include pain or bleeding around the wound, an allergic reaction to medication used, or infection. More serious (but less common) complications include heart attack or stroke.

You will usually be able to go home on the same day as your operation, though in some cases we'll keep you overnight for observation. Once home, you'll need to take it easy for a week or so.

You'll need to take at least a couple of days off work. More if your job is very demanding or physical. But you'll soon notice that you start to feel better, and within two weeks you should feel up to moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk.

You might have some chest pains for a week or ten days after the procedure. Your consultant and care team will tell you exactly what to expect from your recovery and what to do if you think something is not right.

Your heart symptoms might not go away immediately. In fact, it can take two to three months before they settle. By that point we will have a good idea of how well the procedure has worked.

We will keep in touch during your recovery period and you will come back in for at least one appointment so that we can see how quickly you are getting better. We won't fully discharge you until we're confident you're on the road to recovery.

At Circle Health Group, there are three ways you can pay for treatment. You can use your private health insurance, you can pay for yourself in full, or you can us our flexible payment options to spread the cost.

If you have private medical insurance, speak to your insurer about how to get a referral to one of our hospitals. We work with all major health insurance providers.

If you are paying for your own treatment and would like to spread the cost to make it more affordable, we work with Chrysalis Finance to offer loans that can be paid back over a period of one to five years.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about cardiology and how we can help you look after your heart, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

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