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Question:

If I defer ablation, do I have a greater chance of having a stroke?

I had a cardiac arrest (now have an ICD), a heart attack at age 55, now 71. A year ago, I developed atrial fibrillation. I am otherwise active and healthy. I am taking Sotalol. My electrophysiologist suggested an ablation. If I don’t have one, do I have a greater chance of having a stroke? The symptoms of the “extra heartbeat” bother me at night only. I could live with it at this point, but it is a constant worry.

Submitted by Carol from Anchorage, Alaska on 02/18/2014

The risk of stroke in patients with AF (atrial fibrillation) is not only the arrhythmia. Discuss with your doctor the CHADS2 and the CHAD-VASC risk scores, the risk benefits of stroke prevention with anticoagulants, and which approach is better for you. In the long run, ablation is superior to drugs in keeping normal rhythm. I recommend finding an electrophysiologist and discussing the pros and cons of drugs vs. ablation.