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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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





48 - 53


Administration, Oral, Aged, Anticoagulants, Atrial Fibrillation, Case-Control Studies, Catheter Ablation, Female, Hemorrhage, Humans, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Stroke, Treatment Outcome