A Closer Look at Cardiac Ablation in Singapore and How It Works

Heart problems are no laughing matter. They can strike anyone, at any time, and can range from mildly inconvenient to downright life-threatening. But despite their seriousness, heart problems remain one of the most poorly understood and under-researched medical conditions in the world. From heart attacks to arrhythmias, heart problems take many forms, and each one can have a unique set of symptoms and treatment options. But one thing is for sure: no one wants to experience the pain, fear, and uncertainty that come with a heart problem. That is why it is so important to stay vigilant, take care of your health, and seek medical attention if you suspect any issues with your heart. If you have arrhythmia, read this article to learn more about the condition. We will also discuss cardiac ablation in Singapore, a medical procedure used to treat various heart conditions, including arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia and cardiac ablation

Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. It occurs when the electrical signals that control the heart’s rhythm are disrupted. This disruption can be caused by various factors, such heart disease, congenital heart defects, and certain medications. For some individuals, arrhythmia may not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, for others, it can significantly impact their quality of life and increase the risk of complications such as stroke or heart failure.

When medications and other conservative treatments fail to effectively manage arrhythmia, cardiac ablation may be recommended. Cardiac ablation offers a more targeted approach by directly addressing the problematic heart tissue responsible for the abnormal electrical signals. By destroying or isolating this tissue, the heart’s rhythm can be restored to a normal and healthy state.

Conditions that can be treated with cardiac ablation

Cardiac ablation can be used to treat various heart conditions beyond arrhythmia. Some of the conditions that can be effectively treated with this procedure include:

  • Atrial fibrillation: This is the most common type of arrhythmia, characterized by rapid and irregular heartbeats originating from the heart’s upper chambers (atria).
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT): SVT is a condition where the heart beats abnormally fast due to abnormal electrical pathways. Cardiac ablation can eliminate these abnormal pathways and restore a normal heart rhythm.
  • Ventricular tachycardia: This potentially life-threatening arrhythmia is characterized by rapid heartbeats originating from the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles). Cardiac ablation can be used to treat and prevent episodes of ventricular tachycardia.
  • Atrial flutter: Atrial flutter is a condition similar to atrial fibrillation, but with a more regular and organized pattern of abnormal heartbeats.

Different types of heart ablation procedures

There are several types of heart ablation procedures, each tailored to the specific heart condition being treated. Some common types include:

  • Radiofrequency ablation: This is the most commonly used type of cardiac ablation procedure. It involves using a catheter with a heated tip that delivers high-frequency electrical energy to the targeted heart tissue, destroying it or creating scar tissue. This scar tissue helps block the abnormal electrical signals causing arrhythmia.
  • Cryoablation: Cryoablation uses extreme cold to destroy the problematic heart tissue. A catheter with a cooled tip is used to freeze the targeted tissue, creating scar tissue that disrupts the abnormal electrical signals.
  • Laser ablation: This type of ablation uses laser energy to destroy or modify the problematic heart tissue. It is less commonly used compared to radiofrequency or cryoablation.
  • Microwave ablation: This type utilizes microwave energy to heat and destroy the problematic heart tissue, in a manner similar to cryoablation. It is also less commonly used compared to other ablation techniques.

The choice of ablation procedure depends on factors such as the specific heart condition, the location of the problematic tissue, and the expertise of the cardiac electrophysiologist.

The process of cardiac ablation

Before undergoing cardiac ablation, the patient will be given anesthesia to ensure comfort and minimize pain during the procedure. The procedure is typically performed in a specialized cardiac electrophysiology lab.

During the procedure, the cardiac electrophysiologist will insert several catheters into the patient’s blood vessels, usually through the groin or wrist. These catheters are carefully guided to the heart using imaging techniques such as fluoroscopy and electroanatomic mapping. Once positioned, the catheters will be used to deliver the ablation energy to the targeted heart tissue.

The ablation energy, whether radiofrequency, cryo, laser, or microwave, is carefully applied to the problematic tissue while monitoring the heart’s electrical activity. The goal is to create scar tissue or destroy the abnormal tissue responsible for the arrhythmia, thus restoring a normal heart rhythm.

The duration of the procedure can vary depending on the complexity of the condition and the extent of the ablation required. After the procedure, the catheters are removed, and the patient is moved to a recovery area for observation.

Advantages of cardiac ablation

By restoring a normal heart rhythm, cardiac ablation can significantly improve the symptoms associated with arrhythmia. This can lead to a better quality of life and increased physical activity. For individuals who have been relying on medications to manage their arrhythmia, cardiac ablation may offer the possibility of reducing or eliminating the need for these medications.

Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning it does not require open-heart surgery. The use of catheters and advanced imaging techniques allows for precise targeting of the problematic heart tissue, which minimizes the risk of complications and reduces recovery time. Cardiac ablation has shown high success rates in treating various heart conditions, especially arrhythmia. Many individuals experience a significant improvement in their symptoms or a complete resolution of their arrhythmia after the procedure.

Preparing for cardiac ablation and what to expect- during the procedure

Prior to undergoing cardiac ablation, the patient will have a thorough evaluation by a cardiac electrophysiologist. This evaluation may include various tests such as electrocardiograms (ECGs), echocardiograms, and electrophysiological studies to determine the underlying cause and extent of the arrhythmia. The patient will also be advised to stop certain medications, especially blood thinners, prior to the procedure to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding during and after the ablation.

On the day of the procedure, the patient should avoid eating or drinking for a certain period of time as instructed by the healthcare provider. During the procedure, the patient will be under anesthesia, and it is common to have a catheter inserted into the bladder to monitor urine output. After the procedure, the patient will be moved to a recovery area for monitoring and observation. The medical team will also provide specific instructions regarding post-procedure care and follow-up appointments.

Recovery and aftercare following cardiac ablation

The recovery period after cardiac ablation is generally relatively short. Most patients can expect to go home the same day or the day after the procedure, depending on the specific circumstances and the electrophysiologist’s recommendation.

During the initial recovery period, you should follow the healthcare provider’s instructions regarding physical activity and medication use. Medications may be prescribed to help manage any residual symptoms or to prevent blood clots. It is normal to experience some discomfort or soreness at the catheter insertion site, which should gradually improve within a few days. It is also important to keep the insertion site clean and dry to minimize the risk of infection.

Follow-up appointments with the healthcare provider will be scheduled to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the ablation procedure. Lastly, additional tests such as ECGs and Holter monitoring may be performed to assess the heart’s rhythm and ensure proper healing.

Cadence Heart Centre

Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, 3 Mount Elizabeth #14-13

Mt Elizabeth Medical Centre, Singapore 228510


Mobile: (65) 8318 9884

Phone: (65) 6369 8789