Maintenance of sinus rhythm with an ablation strategy in patients with atrial fibrillation is associated with a lower risk of stroke and death.
Hunter RJ., McCready J., Diab I., Page SP., Finlay M., Richmond L., French A., Earley MJ., Sporton S., Jones M., Joseph JP., Bashir Y., Betts TR., Thomas G., Staniforth A., Lee G., Kistler P., Rajappan K., Chow A., Schilling RJ.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) reduces stroke rate or mortality. METHODS: An international multicentre registry was compiled from seven centres in the U.K. and Australia for consecutive patients undergoing catheter ablation of AF. Long-term outcomes were compared with (1) a cohort with AF treated medically in the Euro Heart Survey, and (2) a hypothetical cohort without AF, age and gender matched to the general population. Analysis of stroke and death was carried out after the first procedure (including peri-procedural events) regardless of success, on an intention-to-treat basis. RESULTS: 1273 patients, aged 58±11 years, 56% paroxysmal AF, CHADS(2) score 0.7±0.9, underwent 1.8±0.9 procedures. Major complications occurred in 5.4% of procedures, including stroke/TIA in 0.7%. Freedom from AF following the last procedure was 85% (76% off antiarrhythmic drugs) for paroxysmal AF, and 72% (60% off antiarrhythmic drugs) for persistent AF. During 3.1 (1.0-9.6) years from the first procedure, freedom from AF predicted stroke-free survival on multivariate analysis (HR=0.30, CI 0.16 to 0.55, p<0.001). Rates of stroke and death were significantly lower in this cohort (both 0.5% per patient-year) compared with those treated medically in the Euro Heart Survey (2.8% and 5.3%, respectively; p<0.0001). Rates of stroke and death were no different from those of the general population (0.4% and 1.0%, respectively). CONCLUSION: Restoration of sinus rhythm by catheter ablation of AF is associated with lower rates of stroke and death compared with patients treated medically.