Atrial Fibrillation (AF) - London Cardiologist answers FAQs

AF, electrical chaos and reduced heart function

As we age the cells within the atria (the top 2 chambers of the heart) can start to conduct electricity increasingly abnormally. Atrial fibrillation is a rapid, irregular heart rhythm that can happen as we grow older. The heart tissues rather than providing smooth ripples of electricity conducting through tissue, electrical chaos develops in an irregular pattern. This causes the heart to become much less efficient and heart function is reduced.

Diagnosed with Paroxymal AF?

On being informed that you have AF or paroxysmal AF, paroxsymal simply means intermittent, you want to know what the next best course of action is - and it is important to do some research of your own, as well as to know what to ask in order to get the best possible expert advice.

With this in mind, UCH London Cardiologist, Dr Oliver Segal has prepared a Heart Patient Guide to help patients get the best from their next consultation with a heart specialist - Cardiologist Consultation Checklist. This is an essential starting point for anyone diagnosed with a heart problem.

The good news for patients diagnosed with AF is that the latest treatments, including catheter ablation have excellent outcomes.

In addition, Dr Segal has also produced an Atrial Fibrillation FAQs factsheet. This expert factsheet answers such questions as:

  • Who can have ablation for atrial fibrillation?
  • What are the pros and cons of atrial fibrillation ablation?
  • What if ablation is not performed?
  • Is paroxysmal atrial fibrillation ablation new?
  • Is pain relief given if general anaesthetic is not used?
  • Is surgery required?
  • Will I need to take blood-thinning medication after ablation?
  • Will I need to take anti-arrhythmic drugs after ablation?
  • What follow up is required following ablation?
  • How soon can I do physical exercise after ablation?
  • How long can I not drive for?
  • Can ablation be repeated if unsuccessful the first time?
  • What happens if ablation does not work?
An abbreviation for atrial fibrillation Full medical glossary
A medication that reduces sensation. Full medical glossary
The two upper chambers of the heart. Full medical glossary
A common abnormal heart rhythm causing a rapid, irregular pulse and failure of the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to pump properly. Abbreviated to AF. Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
A tube used either to drain fluid from the body or to introduce fluid into the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
Abnormally fast and uneven contractions of the heart muscle, so that blood cannot be pumped efficiently Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
Stopping or ceasing for a time. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
A group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function. Full medical glossary