Posted on 12.14.2018

Cardiac Ablation, and All That It Entails

Any of you who have been following this column for some time will remember that about six years ago, I went into Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and had a pacemaker implanted.

My heart - the part of it that beats and pumps the blood - is healthy, but I had some problems with the electrical part that sets the rhythm, the pace and the number of beats per minute which resulted in what is called atrial fibrillation, which simply means that the blood does not move in the steady rhythm that is desired for good heart health.

One of my problems was that my heart had spells of slowing down below the prescribed minimums and the pacemaker kicks in when it falls below a certain level and gets it back up to speed.

You are also given a medicine that works in conjunction with the pacemaker to deal with the atrial fibrillation - or AFib - and my doctor says that my pacemaker is working fine but I had outlasted the rhythm medicine and it had lost some of its effectiveness and I was periodically falling back into AFib again which was making me feel extremely run down.

The next step was a process known as cardiac catheter ablation.

I won’t even get involved with trying to explain exactly how the procedure works, but will endeavor to relate it in broad layman’s terms, but should anybody be interested enough, it is easily obtainable on the web, complete with exhaustive written information and diagrams.

But for all you, “cut the to chase” people - like me - let me see if I can explain it so you can at least get a cursory notion of what is involved.

I don’t know why or what caused the condition but there are places in my heart that emit rogue electrical impulses and throw a monkey wrench into the natural timing, pacing and rhythm.

Through some complicated x-ray procedure, the emissions are located and identified and mapped out.

The procedure requires going into a vein in the groin and inserting a probe with a device on the end of it that is able to cauterize the places causing the trouble.

The doctors speed up the patient’s heart, then they can see the skin around the heart’s electrical path that is causing the AFib. With either heat or cold, they cauterize a “fence” around the electrical path. When the fence heals, the cauterized skin turns into scar tissue. The scar tissue keeps the electrical signal in the proper path due to the fact that scar tissue does not conduct electricity.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying it, but, in layman’s language and cowboy logic that’s about it.

I have dual reasons for writing this. When people hear the word “heart” and anything to do with its treatment, they tend to conjure up thoughts of cardiac arrest and open-heart surgery, and my condition had nothing to do with either one and I wanted to let everybody know that the procedure is done, was successful and I am home where I am not supposed to lift anything heavier than ten pounds for a week and take it sort of easy for the same period of time.

After a week, I can resume my regular schedule of exercise, lifting things and normal life.

My other reason for writing this is that if anybody who reads this is having weak spells, unexplained trouble breathing or noticeable loss of energy on a regular basis, please go and be examined, because if you catch your problems in the early stages there is a good chance it can be eliminated by simple means like medicine or maybe a pacemaker.

But if the day should ever come when your doctor tells you that you need a catheter ablation, don’t fear it.

It is mostly non-evasive, has absolutely nothing to do with opening your chest, usually requires a one-night stay in the hospital and gets you back to normal life in a few days.

Unattended to, little problems can turn into monsters when it comes to health, so if your heart - or any other part of your body - needs medical attention, don’t put it off, and above all, don’t let your imagination run wild about what kind of treatment it would take to make you well again.

It could be something very simple.

And one more thing I always remember, doctors treat, but God is the One who applies the healing touch.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

— Charlie Daniels

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Comments

Cardiac Ablation
Very Interesting. Husband had the same procedure last month. So far so good. Has had some relief from the Afib...our hope is that it will continue. Very grateful. We appreciate what modern medicine is now able to accomplish. God has given men wisdom to help us so we can fulfill His call on our lives.
Posted by Cate
Pace Maker
Yes, I have an ICD which is pacemaker and defilbrater so I have the same but the Drs can do amazing things with Gods help
Posted by Jerry
Unbelievable
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie, all I can say is that it is unbelievable what doctors can do today and I'm glad that it was all a success and God is giving you many more years. Enjoy you rest and taking it easy for a short spell. God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy
Heart
So glad you are feeling better. Our God is still the Great Healer!
Posted by Pat
Feel better my friend.........
Charlie - I had an ablation 4 years ago this week. Feeling great, lost 35 pounds within 6 months post-procedure. Down to 1 baby aspirin per day and routinely running 10Ks. You are an inspiration to many of us out there. We appreciate your support of our troops. God bless you, our troops and our country.
Posted by Robert
Abation
thank you so much for your words of encouragement as i am having an ablation on 12/26 and been nervous about the procedure but i feel much better now with your words of wisdom... i have been a fan since 1975 and saw your last two shows in Napa, CA and look forward to seeing again in Lincoln, CA at the ThunderValley Casino. Much love to you and your family and Merry Christmas, Terry Baker
Posted by Terry
I have been there too!
I had 20 years of A-Fib episodes. I had the Ablation you had for A-Fib and also for A-Flutter. I was on Rythmal for 19 of those years and Cardizem. In 2016, we were going to another Ablation but after tests my doctor called the night before the procedure and told me we could not do it. They found that my 2 left pulmonary veins were stenosis (narrowed) from 14 mm to 5 mm. This explains why I had been having breathing problems. I was singing in a church choir and one night I got so light headed and almost passed out. Anyway, back to the veins. This is a very rare thing that happens after an Ablation where scar tissue grows in the veins. So I had to go to Mayo Clinic in Minn to have a stent put into my left inferior pulmonary vein. Because my 2 veins were so close they could only open 1 with a stent and leave the other. Since that time I could not get another Ablation. And later in 2017 after visiting the ER and hospital we decided to change my meds to Tikosin or Dofitlide. To do this I had to be in the hospital for the loading of the meds and to get the right dosage. We did that in December and I was back in Jan in A-Fib. So long story short.... I have been to the hospital 7 times for A-fib and 1 time for Pacemaker installation. One of this trips with A-Fib was a month later and at the end of that week they did they final procedure to make me dependent on the Pacemaker. The procedure is AV Node Ablation. This is where they split the electrical connection between the atrial and ventricle to stop the Atrial directing the speed of the heart. I know what you have gone through. I pray for a quick recovery and get back to doing what you love and what we fans love to hear you do!! God Bless
Posted by Veronica
CABG and Afib
Dear Mr. Daniels, My sincerest hope for a pain-free recovery. Had a couple similar procedures (triple CABG, afib, vein surgery etc.), my guitar playing unfortunately did not improve after the operation. My note is simply to let you know that quite a few folks have drawn inspiration from your words. For me it occurred in 1980, following the election of Reagan, you introduced IN AMERICA, and it did herald in a new feeling in America, it reminded us of the pride we should always feel for the sacrifices made for all of us to have this nation. Anyway, get better and keep that wonderful spirit of your alive. Best Regards, Boyd
Posted by Boyd W
Heart
Hey from Bladen Charlie! So glad to hear you are doing better! That pump that keeps us going can scare a person when it acts up!! I was going in for a procedue one time and I had the shot that makes ya kinda funny and I told the anesthesiologist that modern medicine is the second greates gift God has given us. He said he agreed and then asked me what was the first. I said Jesus! He was a little shocked!! Take care and do follow the doctors instructions. I know how you men are the minute you start feeling a little bit better!!!!!
Posted by Jan
The heart for it
And you got that. So the CD bus and Charlie both get the maintenance they deserve. God Bless - He does the healing. ~NIMOC
Posted by Jeff
Feel Better!
So Glad you are doing well! We were going to see you in Az in Dec 6 and see now why your show was cancelled hope your able to reschedule❤️
Posted by Michele
Thanks for all of your Music
Hey Mr. Charlie I have always been a fan. And I love your music. I hope you have a great Merry Christmas. Love you. Timothy (T.J)
Posted by Timothy
Ablation
Charlie, I had heart racing spells from birth until I was 50 years old. Finally had an ablation in 2009 at UAB in Birmingham. It was the best move I ever made. After 50 years of dealing with heart racing, I now forget that I ever had a problem! Thanks for sharing this. I just finished your book and it was wonderful. Please write some more. You are my generation’s poet! Hope to see you again soon.
Posted by Eric