Discharge Instructions for Catheter Ablation

You have had a procedure called catheter ablation. It was used to treat an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). This procedure destroyed (ablated) the cells in your heart that were causing your heart rhythm problem. During the procedure, the healthcare provider put a thin, flexible wire (catheter) into a blood vessel in your upper thigh. The provider then threaded it up to your heart.

Home care

Here are recommendations for care at home: 

  • You won't be able to drive yourself home because you had medicine to relax you (sedation) You will need to make arrangements for a ride. Your healthcare provider may tell you not to drive for 24 hours after the procedure.

  • You should be able to go back to your normal daily activities in the next 1 to 2 days. These include walking, climbing stairs, and doing household chores.

  • Don't do any heavy physical activity for several days after the procedure. This will allow your body to heal.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work.

  • Take your temperature and check your incision for signs of infection every day for a week. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site. It is normal to have a small bruise or lump where the catheter was inserted.

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses. You may need to make some changes in your medicines because of the ablation procedure. Be sure to go over your medicine instructions with your healthcare provider before you are discharged.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your healthcare provider which readings mean that you need medical attention.

  • Don't lift heavy objects for a period of time after your ablation. Ask your healthcare provider for specific advice.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider. Your provider will check how your incision site is healing. In many cases, one ablation is enough to treat an arrhythmia. But sometimes the problem comes back or another is found. If this happens, you may need a second procedure.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Redness, pain, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from your incision

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness

  • Temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider 

  • Sudden coldness, pain, or numbness in the leg or arm with the insertion site

  • Nausea or vomiting

Note: Ask your healthcare provider what to expect about your heartbeat. Sometimes the irregularity goes away right after the procedure. Other times it may take longer to go away.