What are the alternatives to AF ablation?
Many patients with AF have very mild symptoms and do not require further treatment as long as their heart pumping function is unaffected and their risk of stroke is small.
Medicines are a suitable alternative for many patients, but recent evidence suggests that the risks of serious side effects with medicine is comparable to the procedure risks of an ablation treatment. Some medicines such as Amiodarone can be very helpful in the short term but in the longer term side effects can be serious and even life-threatening on occasion.
If heart rate control remains difficult for patients in whom AF ablation is not a success or is not possible, then pacemakers can be still be used with AV node ablation (an ablation targeting the normal conduction system between the top and bottom chambers of their heart), but this has downsides of course and would leave the patient's life dependent on their pacemaker for a heart beat. Nevertheless, it can be useful for some patients.