Is catheter ablation for AF worthwhile?
To ablate, or not to ablate? That is the question.
That’s what international researchers were investigating in two studies just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
And the answer? As so often happens in medicine, the answer is: it depends.
Looking at the two studies, patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation had a greater improvement in their quality of life at the one year mark if they had undergone catheter ablation than if they had been treated with medical treatment alone.
But not to diminish the importance of quality of life as a measure of success, other findings from the latest research are also worth noting.
In the larger of the two studies, a randomised controlled controlled trial of over 2200 patients presenting with symptomatic AF, researchers found after four years of follow-up that there was no significant difference in mortality between the group who had received catheter ablation and those who were treated with drug therapy alone. Similarly, the rate of disabling stroke, serious bleeding ...
Packer DL, Mark DB, Robb RA, Monahan KH, Bahnson TD, Poole JE, et al. Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy on Mortality, Stroke, Bleeding, and Cardiac Arrest Among Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CABANA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Mar 15. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.0693 [Epub ahead of print]
Mark DB, Anstrom KJ, Sheng S, Piccini JP, Baloch KN, Monahan KH, et al. Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Medical Therapy on Quality of Life Among Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CABANA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Mar 15. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.0692 [Epub ahead of print]
Albert CM, Bhatt DL. Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation: Lessons Learned From CABANA. JAMA. 2019 Mar 15. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.17478 [Epub ahead of print]
Blomström-Lundqvist C, Gizurarson S, Schwieler J, Jensen SM, Bergfeldt L, Kennebäck G, et al. Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Antiarrhythmic Medication on Quality of Life in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CAPTAF Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Mar 19; 321(11): 1059-68. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.0335