Ablation-associated inflammation
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. There is substantial evidence that any kind of catheterization or surgical procedure involving the heart causes an inflammatory response. There is also evidence that inflammation can cause arrhythmia. Finally, it has been observed that recurrent afib episodes are fairly common in the first 3 months following a pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) procedure and the occurrence of such episodes is not necessarily indicative of long-term failure.

A group of electrophysiologists at the University of California now report that the level of the inflammation marker CRP increased significantly in a group of ablated afibbers who experienced recurrent episodes within the first 7 weeks following the procedure. A similar increase in CRP was not seen in afibbers who did not experience any afib episodes during their first 7 weeks of recovery. The CRP level in both groups declined between the 7-week follow-up period and a second follow-up at 26 weeks.

The researchers conclude that the extent of left atrial tissue damage inherent in curative AF ablation generates a protracted inflammatory state with proarrhythmic effects.

McCabe, JM, et al. Protracted CRP elevation after atrial fibrillation ablation. PACE, Vol. 31, September 2008, pp. 1146-51

Editor's comment: I am still not sure in my own mind whether the association between elevated CRP levels and afib is due to inflammation causing afib or afib causing inflammation. However, assuming that inflammation is indeed the causative factor, then it would make sense to take steps to dampen the post-ablation inflammation by supplementing with natural anti-inflammatories such as Zyflamend, beta-sitosterol, bromelain, curcumin, boswellia, Moducare, quercetin, and fish oil.