A new study by Australian researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia shows compelling evidence that lifestyle changes after an ablation can dramatically affect the outcomes of the procedure.
The study included more than 149 people who had a catheter ablation. Sixty-one of them took part in an aggressive “risk factor management” program after the procedure.
The program aimed to reduce lifestyle risk factors such as:
- Being overweight
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High blood sugar levels
- Sleep breathing problems (sleep apnea)
After five years, patients who managed these lifestyle factors were five times more likely to be alive and to be free of heart rhythm problems such as atrial fibrillation than those hadn’t gotten healthier — 87 percent versus 18 percent.
I don’t know how to interpret these studies so I can’t tell you if this study really means anything or not, but on the surface it looks very promising. Essentially the study shows that if you live a healthier lifestyle after an ablation, you could potentially improve your outcomes.
It looks like Dr. John was right during one of our conversations when we were discussing ablations and atrial fibrillation. He simply asked, “What is your contribution?”
What he was referring to was that people will come to him who are obese, have sleep apnea, high blood pressure, etc. and want him to fix their afib with an ablation. Dr. John was saying that as an EP, there is only so much he can do. Sure he can do the ablation, but what is your contribution? What are you doing to beat your afib?
It’s crazy to think you can be cured permanently of afib after an ablation if you continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Sooner or later it’s going to catch up to you again. Everything in life comes with a price – including your lifestyle choices.
For years I led an extremely unbalanced lifestyle. I ate fast food and junk food daily, consuming well over 4,000 calories daily of the crap. Yet, I always consumed various health supplements and worked out every day at the gym. I was a heavy drinker. I didn’t sleep much. In short, I was a mess. It’s amazing that at age 42, atrial fibrillation is the “only” health issue I have to deal with. I’ve been blessed because aside from the afib, I’ve always been perfectly healthy despite my unbalanced lifestyle.
After that conversation with Dr. John, however, everything changed. He was basically telling me that I will never beat afib if I rely solely on an ablation. I was going to have to make some changes. Instead of waiting to make those changes after my ablation, I made them before.
It hasn’t been easy but over the past six months I have managed to lose over 25 pounds and I’m eating healthier than ever before. I still have work to do as I’d like to lose ten more pounds and I’d like to get more sleep than the five to six hours a night I’m getting now, but at least I’m making significant progress.
The point is I’m trying my hardest to make those difficult lifestyle changes now so I don’t have to after the ablation. And by doing so, I’m trying to put myself in the absolute best position to have a successful, “one and done” ablation come February!