March 31, 2015

AV Node Ablation: Why You Shouldn’t Have It

One topic, AV node ablation, makes the rounds of the atrial fibrillation discussion groups on a regular basis, and has just come back around again. All at about the same time, several afib patients’ doctors have insisted that they have an AV node ablation with a pacemaker implant. Thus they have come seeking others’ experiences.

In this procedure, the AV (atrio-ventricular) node is frozen or cauterized to stop electrical signals from being transmitted from the upper chambers, the atria, to the lower chambers, the ventricles, and a permanent pacemaker is implanted to control the heart’s electrical system.

Supposedly, at least according to some doctors, the AV node ablation will eliminate afib, or at least patients won’t feel it any more. Wrong, say many who have had the procedure. They still feel it, and they are just as miserable.

And whether or not you feel your afib, it’s still damaging your heart, and you’re still at risk of blood clots and strokes. Thus you’ll probably still be on anticoagulants, such as Coumadinâ or warfarin.

I don’t have anything against pacemakers – they do a great job of keeping people alive and of detecting irregularities. We’re lucky to have this technology.

But please, please, just don’t sever that AV node that connects the atria to the ventricles. It’s so FINAL. You probably won’t be able to take advantage of advances in medical technology, and if there’s a problem with your pacemaker, you darn sure better be able to get to an emergency room quickly.

So, lets see…

  • you’ll still have afib
  • you’ll still be at risk of strokes
  • you’ll probably still be on Coumadinâ
  • you’ll be pacemaker-dependant
  • you may not be able to take advantage of advances in medical technology

Now, why is it you would WANT an AV node ablation? Duh!

This controversy seems to be pitting patients against their doctors. One mentioned that her doctor thought she was obstinate for not wanting an AV node ablation. She’s not being obstinate. It’s her body, and she gets to make the decisions. She doesn’t want one, and considers the procedure prehistoric. She’s right!

Maybe for some patients it’s the only answer. But I suspect that applies to far fewer patients than actually get the procedure. Is this just another case of Clueless Doctors who are just not aware of what afib does to us? Or are these doctors unaware of all the other Options Available? Or is it an economic decision? I sure hope not. Is it naïve to still believe that doctors want the best for their patients and will help them find a cure?

What has been your experience regarding AV node ablation? You’re welcome to join our discussion or share your thoughts and comments below. Thanks.


  1. Rob Machon says:

    My wife has been suffering AF for 15 years with extreme bouts over 200 bpm. In the last two weeks she’s had at least 7 days of it, some lasting a whole day. It has also created a nasty chronic fatigue synd. that sees her faint at times. Over the years she has tried all of the drugs and none worked after 2 weeks, besides the side effects were horrendous. She has suffered a stroke, broken back from fainting and other health problems, been on Warfarin at 7mg per day, now on the latest blood thinner. She has had 5 ablations and while the last one was sort of successful for a few years the problem has broken through again. Her Specialist is highly respected and at the “top” of his profession. We consulted him today and he suggested that a 6th cryo ab is not the go, because it will most probably be destined for future failure if at best it works in the short term. Consequently my wife was presented with the AV Node Ablation alternative. At 69 years, what does she do? We are both questioning the options, but her life now is almost at a standstill. She can’t go out, not even to visit friends, because the risk of fainting is 90%. She can’t stand her heart fibrillating at 200+ for hours on end. The decision is hers and she’s examining the moral and religious upbringing she’s had that says – “God gave me this heart! What do I now do?” I’ve read all of this column of Q & A’s and am interested in the outcomes of those who recommend against the AV Node Ab. Many are from people who had a negative outcome, but hey why wouldn’t you be disappointed and need to write and express your thoughts. It’s my guess that most successful cases don’t need to read this column?

    • Rob, you may be interested in asking your question on the Patient Discussion Forum. There patients will be able to discuss with you their treatment paths, and why they chose what they did.


      • Rob Machon says:

        Thank you Melissa,
        I am following up with the latest news about my wife Grace’s procedure that we were concerned about when I first wrote. She had the AV Node Procedure last week (6 days ago) and is home “alive and kicking”. She has made a reasonably speedy recovery to this point of time and although she is still suffering from the medical invasion with some pain and healing, the outcome seems to be good. I say that with a conservative observation because she is experiencing different heart rhythm that is directed in the main by her pacemaker, together with an unusual feeling from time to time that possibly is fibrillation. It doesn’t occur often and hasn’t happened for periods of time as it was before the operation, but the feeling is unusual and is accompanied by tiredness and sometimes exhaustion. That doesn’t stop her from doing her household chores and despite my suggestions that she should slow down, she does have determination to get through the process as quickly as possible. Today I’ve noticed a vast improvement in her energy level, so the healing is positive. If this blog helps anyone, then I will write again in a week or so to advise of her condition. I’m sure there is a fair way to go before she attains independence, but every major medical procedure has a healing time that is extended when you are heading for 70. Incidentally, much of what I read about the AV Node Abl has been experienced by Grace, so we are now able to relate to that with confidence. The issue I have is that somewhere I read that a risk of dementia is increased by this procedure. Given the quality of life Grace had over the past 15 years, such opinion is not worth considering when the evidence is unsupported!

        • So glad to hear your wife is doing well. My Dr. has recommended an AV Node ablation and I’m a little nervous about it..I’ve experienced Afib for 25 years even though it was not confirmed by a doctor until 2009. I experience dizziness and get out of breath quite easily. While wearing a monitor, my heart stopped beating for 8 seconds. I didn’t faint but am uneasy that I may next time. I frequently have trouble walking from my car into the grocery store unless I’m pushing a cart. I have already had two ablations which were not effective so I’m not looking forward to having another to find that it may not be successful either.

  2. My mom has afib 18% of the time which is not to bad they want her on blood thinner but she’s scared cause she had bleed in stomach due to aspirin any thoughts or choices please

    • Kim, The AHA/ACC/HRS Guidelines for treating Atrial Fibrillation were updated less than a year ago and announced at ACC 2014. The guidelines had several updates, but one you may be interested to know about could be the update to the stroke risk calculator. Now the CHA2DS2-VASc is recommended for calculating the stroke risk in patients. A score of 2 or greater would indicate a stroke risk high enough to use anticoagulation. This calculator gives women a point where men would get zero. There are also higher risks based upon age. If you would like to learn more about that, you can read about it at While weighing the pros and cons of anticoagulation, consider the risk of an afib-related stroke (and what a stroke could mean for you and your mother and you family). While it may seem that 18% is “not that bad”, her doctors believe she is at an increased risk of stroke due to her time in atrial fibrillation, and it’s worth considering protecting her brain and her health.

      Additionally, you may find the afib patient discussion forum to be a useful resource for you. We have many patients participating in discussions about living with afib. Here’s info to get started.


  3. my hubby had his done several years ago. It has improved his life. he has gone back to the gym and bowling…He is enjoying his kife again

  4. I had AV Node Ablation last year and I have been recently told that “perhaps they were too hasty” in fitting it???? I have also been told that they do not know why I am so out of breath and ill as I “should not be”???? I have also been told that I am worse off now than before it was fitted.
    They now want me to go on a cardiac rehab course when I have to be wheeled to the physo by a porter as I cannot walk very far at all, sometimes only 10ft before I am totally out of breath.

    • Tom, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a tough time managing after your AV node ablation. You may be interested in sharing on our afib patient discussion forum. Instructions for how to sign up are here. Our active forum is full of others who have been managing their afib, and they may be happy to share with you their experiences with afib.

    • I had a v node ablation in August 2014 ,its been going on 5 months and I still don’t feel better,I was told ,you have had 3 ablations,they didn’,you have been on meds ,they haven’t worked, we don’t have any more options, get the v node ablation , and a dual pacemaker.I was hesitant to sign the paper my gut told me that I could try different antiarrhythmic drugs .l have two sisters their a fib is being controlled well,one sister did have a bunch of ablations that never worked she is on Multaq and doing well, my other sister is on Norpace and no a fib .I was wondering does anybody know if I could try some other antiarrhythmic ,do you think I could get out of afib and get to a sinus rhythm? They want me to get a three lead pacemaker.I forgot to tell you I had a echo cardiogram and it showed my heart was not pumping well my ejection fraction was only 35.They had taken me off my sotolol. I still take Pradaxa, so they put me on Coreg and lispineral.l used to do all the country dancing, but I get. out of breath and can do the slow dances .I cant walk fast I get out of breath. Just about any thing gets me out of breath I just can not tolerate a fib ,so that’s my problem ,sincerely Paulette L.

      • Paulette, Thanks for your comments. We are sorry to hear you are not feeling better even after your long list of procedures and meds. You may enjoy asking your question over on our afib patient discussion forum where we have an active group of knowledgeable patients who may be able to give you feedback based upon their various experiences in managing their afib.

  5. Anne Gellner says:

    I’m wondering why the Lariat Procedure has not been considered an option to AV Ablation, I have been referred for ablation and think there must be another option beyond de-stabalizing the heart permanently.

  6. Gary Cook says:

    Frankly you are misinformed. Look at the results published by the Atari all fib heart group at Intermountain Health. Largest study of A fib patients in world (6000) with 2 deaths.
    Check out their articles.
    I’m an MD they treated my refractory A fib. Best decision I’ve ever made.
    You need more information unless you’re a practicing Cardiologist. If so you’re out of date. Ivory towers have a place. All Intermountain Cardiologists
    are medical school faculty members.

    • James Pence says:

      I had an av node ablation about 4 months ago. first I’ve done well I play golf do work projects etc. The only problem I’m having is that I have these anxiety attacks and I can’t stand to set down, or lay down because they get worse. What I am wondering can this be a side effect of having an av node ablation.
      Jimmy in Prescott, Arizona

      • Jimmy, you may want to follow up with your cardiologist or EP about the anxiety attacks you have been experiencing. Also, you may be interested in joining our afib patient discussion forum to gain more insight about managing your afib. Instructions for how to sign up are here. Our active forum is full of others who have been managing their afib, and they may be happy to share with you their experiences with afib.

  7. I am 54 and recently had dual lead pacemaker placed. I am now scheduled for an AV node ablation, which I am unsure of. I have had 3 heart surgeries, the last in my twenties that replaced my mitral valve. The doctors say the Afib is a result of scar tissue. I did have an ablation 4 years ago to get rid of some of the scarring, but they say it comes back and another such ablation is to risky. Is a dual lead pacemaker and AV node the common practice?? Does most people with pacemakers also have the node ablated?

  8. DO NOT HAVE AN AV NODE ABLATION! I had one a few years ago. It caused heart failure. I already had a pacemaker. A new pacemaker was installed with an extra lead that goes through a vein and then is attached the ventricles.

  9. I don’t understand why you want to frighten people from having the procedure if it’s their last option. My husband is 65 had his done last year and he is so much better and loving life again. Bowling going to the gym,swimming it’s wonderful to see him enjoying his life…

    • Kay,
      For those who are 80 or more, AV node ablation may make sense. However, for those who are younger, doctors encourage pursuing other options such as catheter ablation or surgery. AV node ablation leaves people in afib all the time, which builds up fibrosis in the heart and increases the risk of stroke, especially among women. Therefore, we stand by our opinion that AV node ablation is a procedure of last resort. After having an AV node ablation, please make sure to be consistent about taking anticoagulants to prevent a stroke.

      We are glad your husband is enjoying his life again. If you would like to join our discussion forum, we would love to have you. Sign up here.


  10. My 83 year old mother has a defibrillator in her. She is on a lot of medicine…some to slow her heart down. The meds make her dizzy and she see’s things floating around that are not there + her lower back starts hurting around her kidney’s if she stands a bit. Today her doctor talked her into getting this AV procedure done. I’m scared because something could go wrong and once it’s done there’s no going back. She’s been shocked by her defibrillator around 3 times. She received the defibrillator in 2012. She only has 1/3 of her heart working.

  11. Maureen Cuff says:

    I had an av node ablation done + dual chamber pacemaker fitted at the age of 46. Medication was no longer working and I felt it was a healthier way to go. I have been on warfarin which is quite stable and I have it checked once a month. I preferred my pacemaker to be set to work from the top chamber. I was able to walk, play golf and have an active life. I also took a beta blocker as I could still feel the afib but was able to function well. I am now 56 years old. 2 years ago the pacemaker had to be set to bypass the top chamber, atrium, because the afib had got worse. Since then I have felt short of breathe and tire very easily. I cannot walk uphill and am not as active as I used to be with the result that I am not as fit as I used to be and am gaining weight. I have no heart disease and my cardiologist has recommend that I have a catheter ablation done so that my pacemaker can be set to operate from the top chamber. I have spoken to a few people that have had catheter ablation done but none had a av node ablation & pacemaker as well. Would love comments from anyone with the same problem.
    Maureen Cuff, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  12. I am no doctor, nurse or overly intelligent female, but I sure could do with some down to earth advice please.
    My husband is 84 years young and we are both scared. 2008 he had double by-pass, 2012 has 2 stents inserted and has been in good health since.
    In May 2014 he started suffering a lot of breathlessness, puffing just to walk 10ft, silly man didn’t tell me for 4 days that he was getting a “little” bit of chest pain too. I pulled the plug and called ambulance and off he went to hospital. Turned out that he not only had a heart attack but plus a stroke too. There was some fluid around heart but lungs were and still are clear.
    He was diagnosed with “Atrial Fib”, didn’t response well to different tablets had a lot of vomiting and the other end too. They tried twice to kick start his heart but both times within a day was back racing. They ended up sending him home in this condition saying that he needed to have a pacemaker inserted in 2 weeks. He was extremely uptight and they wanted him home to relax a bit.
    Pacemaker was inserted in 18th July and we go to see Cardiologist in 8 days with the intent that he will be having “AV Node Ablation” within a week.
    He is still extremely breathless maybe even a bit worse. They are saying that this procedure “will” fix the breathlessness. Have been reading different articles on web and in particular here but have not read anywhere the problem of breathlessness being a symptom.

    Any comments would be so helpful to me please. Jan

  13. LSGentry says:


    I am 33 years old. I had my AV Nodal ablation when I was 26. I did not have a pacemaker. I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia, so my understanding is my ablation was not fully completed. I am not on any medications for blood thinning or anticoagulants. I do still feel the fibrillation but I am much better than I was. I haven’t had a true attack since my ablation but it took over a year for me to truly feel well. Sometimes I have sharp pains or feel vibrations or have shortness of breath but so far so good. I haven’t followed up with a cardiologist in a few years. I think I will soon though.

  14. Hi everyone. With eight episodes of being shock by my defibrillator,and about 10 hospital stays I had no choice but to have an AV NODE Ablation. I was in my late forties when this happened.I am 54 now. My quality of life has been ok . Some days are good,others not as good. I just had my pacemaker battery replaced last year. AV NODE ablation is survival procedure. I don’t regret doing it for i sure have done way better than in the position i was before. I cannot take Coumadin nor any anticoagulant except for 325 mg aspirin. Iam very sensitive to medication. It has been about 10 years that i had the procedure done.So iam the exception to some of the rules that being commented in this forum.

    • Adry, Thanks for sharing. We are glad you are doing better now. Melissa

    • Adry,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I am concerned by the fact that you’ve had an AV node ablation at such a young age and that you are not on anticoagulants. Staying in afib all the time, such as after AV node ablation, increases your stroke risk because it continues to build fibrosis (scar tissue) in the heart. This fibrosis strongly correlates with stroke risk.

      In case your doctor didn’t tell you, you can still have surgery for afib (usually open heart surgery), even with a pacemaker or defibrillator in place. And if you truly can’t take anticoagulants, then you might want to consider at the same time having an AtriClip or other device implanted that closes off the left atrial appendage (source of most afib-related clots that cause strokes) to prevent strokes.

      Good luck.


      • There is no evidence that she is in afib all the time. Having an av node ablation is not just for chronic afib or proximal afib. It certainly does not mean that after the ablation that you are in constant afib. Av node ablation is also performed for vt and syncope. Putting fear into someone is unjust. She is happy with her life and I’m sure her cardiologist is her best resource for advice.

    • Mary Joy says:

      There is a device called a watchman which is like an umbrella that occludes the left atrial appendage, approved in Europe, but not approved by FDA for over 6 years – the drug companies would lose the profits from all the new blood thinners. It is effective in preventing clots forming in the left atrial appendage which is where clots form in afib. I am a 47+ year survivor of the rest of the barbaric procedures for afib. 15 cardioversions, 4 ablations (last AV node ablation) and meds. Most miserable after AV node ablation. My advice to all would be educate yourself, research, modern medicine is not always our friend.

  15. This year April 15th I had an Av Node ablation. I had been So sick with Atrial fibrillation & no medication was working. I would spend once a week in hospital because with my Atrial fibrillation my Defibrillator would pick it up as something more serious & shock me. So I was being shocked pretty much once every week. My ejection fraction (heart function) was less than 20%, I couldnt do a thing. Fast forward to 5 months after my operation, absolutely NO hospital stays, Heart function up to over 40% and I am able to get out & live life again. I have NEVER felt better & I am so happy I did it. I am only 35 years old…weigh up all the pros & cons but if you are really scared about how you will be after it believe me, it will probably change your life. Good Luck!

  16. hi am kyle am 26 years old an in march this year i had my 4th ablation and finaly an av note ablation with a permanent pacemaker i have found that i still feel the same problems i had before and the only consern i have is my pacemaker to have a problem but i cope better with it now then i did before aa had the pacemaker all thou some times i wake at night wishing i didnt have it but i am alive and for that i am greatful

  17. MAG. MY MOM RECENTLY HAD A STOKE ALONG WITH AFIB HEART RATE A PACEMAKER WAS PLAED BUT NOT FULL DEPENDENT, HER STROKE HIT HER HARD WITH DEMENTRA. SHE CANT WALK, HER SPEAK A FULL SENTIENCE,DOSENT UNDER STAND THE WHAT A SPPON IS ETC, CNAT FOLLOW COMANDERES, DR, ADVISINF ME TO PLACE HER FULL DEPENDENT Why? she has no quailty of life now, sad enough. she will no longer get better has clots in heart, lung and legs? i dont want my mom to go full Av ablation but family members feel this shold be done. help confused and fuzz strated.

    • I’m so sorry about what your mother has gone through. Is her doctor recommending a full AV node ablation? If so, why? Can you get a second opinion? I don’t know enough about the situation to do anything more than to provide these questions for you to ask the doctor. Good luck. I hope you’re able to find solutions.

  18. Oh and to add to my email….
    I find the article very poorly represented…
    when it list why not to have an av node ablation
    It says “now why would you want to have an av node ablation? Duh?”
    I find that offensive…it makes us sound stupid…..the ones who had it done and were given our lives back.
    I know several people who had the there hearts “sliced and diced” by the maze procedure…..only to still be in afib and worse off.
    Each case if different…..but to scare people about this procedure is just wrong!
    I do believe the article should be re-written…instead of scaring people to death……if I had listened to this…I would not have gotten my quality of life back.
    Thank you

    • For those who are 80 or more, AV node ablation may make sense. However, for those who are younger, doctors encourage pursuing other options such as catheter ablation or surgery. AV node ablation leaves people in afib all the time, which builds up fibrosis in the heart and increases the risk of stroke, especially among women. Therefore, we stand by our opinion that AV node ablation is a procedure of last resort. After having an AV node ablation, please make sure that you are religious about taking anticoagulants to prevent a stroke.

      • Of course it is important to be on Coumadin. I will be for the rest of my life.
        There are people in their 20’s and 30’s who have had av node ablations and are doing fine and have their lives back.
        For some of us all the other options have failed.
        To scare people after their doctors recommended av node ablations is wrong!
        I will gladly talk to anyone who has a question about the av node ablation
        My email is

  19. Norman Weiser says:

    Have been in AFib for years now. Have had numerous medications which worked for various periods of time. When medications ceased to be effective, I underwent 3 cardio versions (all unsuccessful).
    Now that my Afib has me in an almost constant feeling of fatigue and breathlessness, my EP want’s to do an AVNode ablation and a pacemaker insert. He was going to do them simultaneously but because of a violent cough I have had for 6 months, he has opted to do the pacemaker first in order to make sure a coughing spell does not dislodge the leads to the heart. He then will do the AVNode ablation approximately 10 weeks later. What am in for

    • Hi Norman, you may be interested in asking your questions on our discussion forum. To get to the Discussion Forum, go to: To post or ask questions, you’ll need to register. Instructions for registering and getting started are here: I hope you find the answers you’re looking for.


    • Hi Everyone,
      I had my av node ablation last fall. I have posted on here once before.
      It upsets me when you google av node ablation and up pops this link…that says…why you should not have an av node ablation.
      I am so VERY GLAD I had mine.
      I truly did get my life back!
      For me it was the only option to a half way normal life.
      I kayak again….and it was a piece of cake going though it!
      my email is jpdawoods at …..Please email me…I’m here to answer questions and share my experience. I was 58 when I had it done.
      Please don’t let this hedline scare you away from this option.

      • Pam,

        We hope that, since you had your AV node ablation at such a young age, you are on anticoagulants and will adhere to them religiously for the rest of your life. Women who have had an AV node ablation are at increased risk of stroke, so please read this article for more info:

      • hi pam, i was glad to here that someone had something good to say about this. im 55, i just had my av, done and i have a pacemaker and defibulatou, i hope i will be feeling better soon to. this page scared me when i read it, it made me feel i had made a wrong dissiontion.

  20. Terry Smith says:

    I had an Av Node ablation in 2001 and it saved my life. I could not function before. I was in permanent afib and my heart output was so bad I could hardly walk 20 feet without resting. 6 months after the ablation I was exercising reguarly. Mine may have been an extreme case as my doctor said that I may have only been able to live a couple of years with the way my heart was functioning, this was twelve years ago. I still walk 2 miles 5 days a week.

  21. elizabeth campbell says:

    I have had 2 ablation procedure for Atrial Fibrillation now i have A.p.C What about a pacemaker for this?

    • Sharon. Campbell says:

      Hi my name is sharon and iam 56 years old had an ablation done cuz of a fib n thought I was gonna die when I came to could not breathe chest felt like a elephant was sitting on it n the ep doc was telling my family everything went fine!!!!! Now I am worse than I was am on oxygen 24. Seven can’t walk three feet I go into afib my regular cardiologist is sending me to okla city to two ep docs n possibly end up getting a pace maker right now I have no quality of life so please get a second option before you have an ablation done

  22. We just added a related article, Did Pope Benedict Have an AV Node Ablation for His Atrial Fibrillation?, at

  23. Judith Beyer says:

    I wish I knew the ages of those who have had the AV-Node Ablation. I am 74 and have suffered with A-Fib for 3 1/2 years. I have been hospitalized 8 times with A-Fib diagnoses and 2 times with other issues that have, unfortunately, triggered the A-Fib. I have a pacemaker. I can’t even remember the names of all the meds I have been on for the A-Fib….currently I am on Nadolol which is not helping at all. My EP cardiologist is recommending an AV-Node Ablation. Seems I have run through most all of the meds I am able to take. Any comments from some others who are my age??

    • Judith: Haave had an ablation or a second or third? That should be the first thing you consider. Get a second opinion.

    • Pam Walker says:

      Judith, my dad went into permanent a-fib and could barely function. He finally had an av-node ablation (with pacemaker) at the age of 71. It gave him his life back. He’s 76 now and doing well.

      • Pam Walker says:

        I wanted to say one more thing. When my dad developed permanent a-fib, my sister and I researched all of his options. Almost six years later, I’m dealing with paroxysmal a-fib and researching options once again, and I am disappointed to realize that there doesn’t seem to have been much improvement in what’s available out there to people with a-fib. So waiting to take advantage of advances in medical technology may mean waiting for years and years, and some people just aren’t able to wait.

    • I am 73,fot AF for 5 year,3 on Amiodarone, got AIT bad,went hyperthyroid,hypo. Amio.worked great,but I stopped because of bad side effects and promptly went afib on and off, now I am on Ditaizem240, small dose of atenolol, losartan& 20mgXarelto (Xarelto is good but HI$$).

      They say as long as my HR is down (70-90) and I am not limited (I am not too much), no need to rush into ablation. There seems to be a new theory that Afib is not deadly if the HR is controlled so as not to weaken the heart, etc.

      Patience is my limitation, but as we wait new treatments come along which can be big improvements.


  24. Scott Kelleher says:

    Let’s see, PRE AV node ablation. 20 cardiversions, 6 ablations, on every medicine you can think of. In the hospital 3-4 times a month for 4 years. The ER nurses knew me by name……not the place you want to be recognized! POST AV-node ablation. Hospital or ER visits after 18 months…..ZERO! I agree it is not the first thing you should do. I mean look at what I went through but if you are telling people not to get this done that is foolish. Are they suppose to live the next 1/5/10/20 years in agony and be miserable, “hoping” for another cure?? It’s a last resort but I can tell you this, as a fellow Afiber it was the best thing I did. I coach 3 teams, workout 5 days a week, ski, go on vacation all without that fear.

    • Thanks 3 weeks from now I will be bringing my husband home from an avnode ablation and pace maker I /we are scared I dont have faith in it as he is a recovering alcoholic and just started to be dry again.. I think he should wait and do the rehab first but… Your comments helped me as I am the one that is negative.. it has pushed us almost to a divorce as I have filed he started drinking again because he felt bad part of that disease but.. it did not help his heart that is for sure
      Thanks for your help
      it does make me feel a little better and I am just ready for it to be done and maybe a bad memory.

    • Hi Scott
      I totally agree with you that they are foolish scaring people! It upsets me to see this article and what they are putting people through after their doctors have suggested an av node ablation
      I am 59 and have my life back!
      Don’t let this article scare you people!
      I’ve been there done it and it gave me life again!
      Write to me anyone who has questions…I’m here and I’ve been through it!
      I read this article before mine and it scared the bejeebers out of me…and there was no one to talk to!

      • Pam,

        We are not trying to scare people – we are trying to help them find their best option. AV node ablation is a treatment of last resort, when nothing else has worked. It’s not usually the best option for a young person, and typically is reserved for those over 80.

        Perhaps you might find of interest what Dr. David Wilber, one of the world’s top afib experts, said:

        “”AV node ablation is a last resort procedure, used when nothing else works,” Wilber said. “The goal is not to eliminate afib but to prevent the rapid conduction of the afib into the ventricle. The procedure artificially induces heart block and, in that case, patients have a rhythm of their own, but only 30 to 40 beats per minute, so a pacemaker is required to provide an adequate rate for exercise and activity.” AV node ablation is reserved for people who are in permanent afib, older patients who are weak or those who are not candidates for other forms of treatment.” [Source: (]

        [By the way…Dr. Wilber is a member of our StopAfib Global Medical Advisory Board (]


  25. AV Node Ablaation should ALWAYS be a last resort. Sometimes, it is the only option while waiting for a heart transplant, or instead of a heart transplant. Trust me, none of us who had an AV Node Ablation, wanted it. We tried EVERY other option out there from traditional to alternative. We were at the point of losing our jobs to losing our lives because of the medical state we were in prior to our procedure. Do I like some of the side effects, no. Do I like being alive? Do I like being able to live a normal life again? Do I like not having to be in the hospital every week for heart failure symptoms? Do I like having an EF over 20 again? Do I like being able to hike, bike, and even walk up a flight of stairs again? My answer is absolutely YES!!!! Again, an AV Node Ablation should always be a last resort. And, yes, some of us waited longer than we should have to have this done, simply out of fear, but for some of us, including me, it was the right decision! I’d rather be writing the to you from a hotel room after a day of hiking and enjoying the outdoors, than writing it from a hospital room dying of heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and every other symptom from 50+ years of serious heart trouble, including hearing the words “without a heart transplant, you will not be with us more than a few months” like I was less than a year ago. Whether you agree or not, this was the right thing for myself, and many others.

    • Clifford Thelen says:

      I’m Scheduled to have AV Node Abulation in a couple of weeks. I have been very reluctant to do this but your experience has made me feel better about it. Ihoping the results are as good as yours.

      • Hi Clifford….I had an av node ablation last fall…best decision I ever made….I have my life back….do I still have afib…yes…but nowhere near the symptoms I had meds helped me…it scared me too….but soooo glad I did it! Best wishes Pam
        Jpdawoods at Email me

  26. ha dont belive the bull here, best thing i ever did ablation 6 yrs ago ,

  27. I had the av node ablation last fall as my last resort for a normal life. I had everything..ablations….all meds…and still the horrible fast rate… It was my last resort….
    Don’t let people scare you…for some of us it is the last resort…..and my results…. Well I have my life back…..yes I still have afib…but hardly ever feel it…and my rate is normal thanks to the pacing.
    So don’t go scaring people..everyone of us is different….and I can now do all I did before afib…in fact I just got back from a cruise….my only regret … That I did t do it sooner..I’m 58 now.
    If anyone wants to email me please do.
    Jpdawoods at

  28. Hello, (my first post here just to share)
    I started a-fib at 64 and over the past two years had had two ablations. I take Sotalol 120 mg 2x daily. I go into a-fib about twice a month and it lasts for about 4 hours.

    The Sotalol keeps my heart rate so low that when I exert myself (like from a sitting position to walking) I am huffing an puffing, feel drained and tired. After a stress test this month, all mechanical issues (muscle, valves, arteries) are fine. So to give me the energy on demand for a more normal heart function, I am going for a 2 chamber pace maker withOUT the AV node procedure. I will still be on Sotalol with the pace maker. The pace maker does not fix the a-fib issues. In about 6 months after the pace maker, I may have another ablations, but my doc says the AV node procedure is too final and I am too young for it. Time will tell. Goodluck to all of you and make it a Merry Christmas as best you can!

  29. Daniel Brown says:

    My mom is 88 and her heart rates been widely fluctuating, going as high as 180 and as low as 40, her doctor has repeatedly said she is not a candidate for pacemaker, and has unsuccessfully tried to control with drugs. Out of the blue he’s decided on a pacemaker for her tomorrow, my sis just heard of the cardiac ablation and I don’t feel we know enough to even discuss it, her pacemaker procedure is pretty soon and I’m just hoping someone can comment in a constructive way.

  30. No surgery for me. I have had afib for 3 years….keep it controled with good diet….digoxin …and whole food supplements Cardio-Plus. I try to keep my schedule less demanding.

    • Carol Monroe says:

      My daughter in law’s mother went in for this. It was supposed to be simple over in an hour. They punched a hole in her heart. It became unrepairable. She died on the table, it was a shock to everyone

      • I would rather have open heart surgery. At least they can see what they are doing. This happened two days ago at Cottage Hospital In Ojai California

      • Carol,
        I had a hole punched in my heart in july, 2012. the doctor did not know what he had done, my body filled with blood and i almost died while i was in icu. I am looking for all the information i can find on this subject.
        Thanks, John

    • My daughter in law’s mother went in for this. It was supposed to take an hour. They punched a hole in her heart and she died. Everyone is in shock! This just happened. Make sure this is your only choice.

  31. John Wilson says:

    I have a AV Node Ablation scheduled in two weeks. I have had irregular heartbeat for a number of years and 2 years ago I had a stroke and congestive heart failure. I have constant A-fib now despite taking Digoxin, Soltolol and other meds for BP and water. I’ve had a Boston Scientific D-fib, Pacemaker device now for a year and a half. I don’t like all the meds and feel the side effects (tired and just that general feeling of being drained). My EP and Cardiac doc feel the AV Node Ablation is going to work and that it will hopefully slow the wear on my heart. It makes sense toi me that cosntant A-fib like I have (never goes away) will eventually wear out the muscles of the heart. Reading all of this now has me wondering….

    • Hi John,

      What is your age? Have your doctors considered catheter ablation or surgery? You may be interested in joining our discussion forum to learn what others have experienced and to share your own story with others. To join the Discussion Forum go to: To post or ask questions, you’ll need to register. Instructions for registering and getting started are here:

      Melissa @StopAfib

      • I had my av node ablation yesterday…and already feel like a new person!!! For me it was a last resort after med failure..ablations failure…I tried it all….don’t let people scare you… For some of us it’s the only answer! :)

        • What to do after all Meds have failed to stop afiband catheter ablation didnt work. Cardiologist says no to av node ablation. He says i will still feel the a fib. True or not?

    • My husband is having this procedure next month and after reading this it terrifies me he has no other choices left to him apart from heart transplant i see my husband suffer every day and all he does is sleep most of the time as he feels so ill I am not put off by your comments most of us have freedom of speech but i think it is unnecessary to frighten people who are so ill they have no other choice and i feel this was not wrote by a medical practitioner every case is different.

  32. Since my previous post I have stayed in sinus, fingers crossed touching wood being good taking the pills every day!
    We are not confident it will continue, as this is often my good time and with the bad weather I get worse, hAd a really good visit to The Heart hospital London great doctor, wanted to talk up being well and keeping me there usually they are happy to tick the box and push you out the door, so she is looking at other meds perhaps an ablation as I seem to have swapped from fibrilatioN to flutter, good luck Gudrun x

  33. Hope all is well, I am reading and following your posts, apologies that I have not commented before.

  34. gudrun45 says:

    It doesn’t look like anybody is reading this, but I’ll give a final update anyway.
    I went to the Mayo clinic and had a regular ablation last Monday. So far, so good….

    •  @gudrun45 :
      I’m sorry – you posted while I was on the road (seems like I was gone from March-July, and I’m headed back out again, which is why our new operations manager is starting to watch over the blog for me).
      I’m glad you had an ablation. Last I remember hearing, your afib was under control with a gluten-free diet. I didn’t realize it had come back. I sure hope the ablation finishes off all afib/flutter for you.

  35. gudrun45 says:

    I keep confusing the right and left atria. They went  into the right one, but my troubles are in the left.

  36. gudrun45 says:

    I’ve had a mini maze in 2007 which was not successful. But after finding out a couple of years later that I have celiac disease and going on a gluten-free diet, I was afib free for over a year, and after that only had short episodes every four to six months.Until a couple of months ago, that is. Then I developed atrial tachycardia that just wouldn’t quit.They went into the left atrium to try and ablate it but found that all my problems are coming from the right side. Much more complicated.
    Ok, so now I’m on cardizem and digoxin, but I still keep going in and out of afib and atach all day long.  I don’t feel good and have no energy whatsoever.
    Saw the electrophysiologist yesterday and he said I had three options:
    1. Keep going the way I am. (Not recommended and really not possible. I wouldn’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life.)
    2. Have an AV node ablation and get a pacemaker. No more drugs other than warfarin for the rest of my life.
    3. Try an ablation in the right atrium. He gave that a 50/50 chance of success. Also I will have to wait a couple of months for that because I developed a blood clot in my leg after the left atrium procedure, and it hasn’t dissolved yet.
    I have no energy and feel my heart beating crazily almost all of the time in spite of the drugs. The EP admitted that the AV node ablation was the “last resort,” but thought that maybe I was at that point. I must say, I’m getting there. 

  37. gudrun45 says:

    I’ve had a mini maze in 2007 which was not successful. But after finding out a couple of years later that I have celiac disease and going on a gluten-free diet, I was afib free for over a year, and after that only had short episodes every four to six months.Until a couple of months ago, that is. Then I developed atrial tachycardia that just wouldn’t quit.They went into the left atrium to try and ablate it but found that all my problems are coming from the right side. Much more complicated.
    Ok, so now I’m on cardizem and digoxin, but I still keep going in and out of afib and atach all day long.  I don’t feel good and have no energy whatsoever.
    Saw the electrophysiologist yesterday and he said I had three options:
    1. Keep going the way I am. (Not recommended and really not possible. I wouldn’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life.)
    2. Have an AV node ablation and get a pacemaker. No more drugs other than warfarin for the rest of my life.
    3. Try an ablation in the left atrium. He gave that a 50/50 chance of success. Also I will have to wait a couple of months for that because I developed a blood clot in my leg after the left atrium procedure, and it hasn’t dissolved yet.
    I have no energy and feel my heart beating crazily almost all of the time in spite of the drugs. The EP admitted that the AV node ablation was the “last resort,” but thought that maybe I was at that point. I must say, I’m getting there. 

    • I had the av node ablation last fall….for me it was the answer!! It gave me my life back… only regret….that I didnt do it sooner…and I just returned from a cruise!
      Don’t let people scare you ….for some of us who have tried all…it can give life back!!!
      Pam…age 58

      • Hi Pam,
        Are you on blood thinners? Staying in afib long term builds fibrosis, or scar tissue, in the heart and that increases a woman’s already greater risk for stroke. The increased risk of stroke from av node ablation, especially in someone so young, bothers us a lot at We do hope you are on blood thinners, or soon will be.

        • Hi Melissa…yes I will be on warfarin the rest of my life. For me…I made the best choice for me…and I would do it all over again. I will not leave this world one second before God wants me… doesn’t matter if I am pacer dependent or in afib….HE controls each beat…and each breath each of us takes.
          I know of several people who had the maze and mini maze and it didnt work….
          For me..this was my answer….ku med center doctors agreed.
          I have life again….it’s quality over quantity for anyone.

        • The following is a small part of a study done at Mayo clinic………..
          Although the observed overall survival among the patients in our study who underwent ablation was significantly worse than the expected survival among matched controls from the Minnesota population, the observed survival among patients without overt heart disease was similar to that of the general-population controls, and no deaths occurred during follow-up among patients with lone atrial fibrillation. Survival rates were similar in the group receiving medical treatment for atrial fibrillation and the group that underwent ablation of the atrioventricular node. These observations suggest that permanent atrioventricular block and implantation of a pacemaker after ablation of the atrioventricular node do not have an important adverse effect on survival, thus reassuring patients and physicians that ablation of the atrioventricular node is an acceptable treatment option for symptomatic atrial fibrillation that is refractory to medical therapy.


          From the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine (C.O., A.J., P.A.F., P.J.P., T.M.M., R.F.R., M.A.L., D.L.P., B.J.G., S.C.H., W.-K.S.) and the Section of Biostatistics (D.O.H.), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

          • Pam,

            Do you know how long the follow up was on the Mayo study that you cited? It would have to be many years to conclusively conclude that there is no difference in survival.

            There is enough data to show that the more and longer you are in afib (with AV node ablation, you tend to be in afib all the time), the more fibrosis builds and the greater the risk of stroke. For someone who is young, like you, that is concerning. Please be almost “religious” about taking your warfarin consistently, and making sure your diet is consistent, too. Unless you’re testing your INR every few days, you won’t know if your INR might be varying day by day.

            Are you doing INR self-testing where you can test more frequently?



  1. […] For more information on AV node ablation, see our earlier article on AV Node Ablation: Why You Shouldn’t Have It. […]