Can I Be Too Old for Cardiac Catheter Ablation?

Old man in hospital bed recovering from a cardiac catheter ablation with family member by his side

Electrophysiology is one of the most technologically advanced specialties in modern medicine. In our quest to make cardiovascular procedures ever more comfortable and minimally invasive, technologies have been developed that are truly mind-blowing. Of those, cardiac catheterization is one of the most transformative, as it has allowed us to perform a wide range of cardiac surgeries without the need for large incisions and long downtimes. Cardiac catheter ablation is a catheterization procedure that enables your electrophysiologist to visualize the heart in three dimensions, see all the electrical signals and pathways in real-time, and ultimately perform a catheter ablation procedure should it be necessary.

As with many relatively newer technologies and techniques, a common limitation is the question of age. However, the minimally invasive nature of cardiac catheter ablation is such that there is no upper age boundary to perform these procedures. To be sure, we screen our patients very carefully as ablations are not for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean that ablation cannot be performed in someone of advanced age.

Cardiac arrhythmias are often hardest on older patients. Not only can they be more disruptive to their everyday life, but it can be a psychological reminder of their perceived fragility, whether that is indeed the case or not. These patients may already be at an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or congestive heart failure from a medical perspective. Adding an arrhythmia to the mix only increases the likelihood that one of these conditions comes to pass or worsens. And because of their age, some may dismiss these palpitations and heart rhythm issues as simply a consequence of living so long. Instead, there is an opportunity for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Having performed cardiac ablations on those in their 80s and 90s, Dr. Tordini enjoys seeing the transformation of someone who may have resigned themselves to a limited lifestyle due to their arrhythmia. Often, they blossom into someone who feels confident traveling, playing with their kids and grandkids, and performing activities that they may have avoided for years or even decades.

To learn more about cardiac catheter ablation or get a comprehensive assessment of any arrhythmia you believe you are suffering from, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tordini. The diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias is often straightforward even when the condition is not persistent and other medical providers have not pinpointed the problem.

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Dr. Tordini is a part of Florida Medical Clinic in Tampa

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