Patients with the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation (AFib) who received first-line catheter ablation treatment had a longer arrhythmia-free interval than patients receiving antiarrhythmic drugs, the standard first-line treatment. The preliminary findings were presented during a late-breaking session (LB02-1) at Heart Rhythm 2012, the Society's 33rd Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston.
“This study supports consideration of catheter ablation as a first-line treatment option for patients with paroxysmal AFib”
The study found that, compared to treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs, radiofrequency catheter ablation significantly extended the time to first recurrence of AFib, atrial tachyarrhythmia, atrial flutter and asymptomatic AFib, in patients with paroxysmal recurrent AFib who had not been previously treated with an antiarrhythmic drug. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is defined as recurrent (two or more) episodes of AFib that end spontaneously in less than seven days.
"This study supports consideration of catheter ablation as a first-line treatment option for patients with paroxysmal AFib," said Dr. Carlos Morillo, MD, FHRS, Hamilton Health Sciences-McMaster University, Hamilton, ON and co-Principal Investigator for the study. "This research is promising, as the results demonstrated better safety and effectiveness outcomes in AFib patients, not previously treated with drugs, who underwent radiofrequency ablation."
Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorder. Other similar conditions include atrial tachyarrhythmia and atrial flutter. AFib is caused by disorganized electrical activity in the heart. Leading medical societies including the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology recommend catheter ablation as second-line therapy for AFib. The most common first-line treatment is anti-arrhythmia drugs; however, in certain patients they are not effective. Recent data indicate that more than 35% of patients will have recurrence of AFib despite best antiarrhythmic drug therapy, and more than 30% of patients will discontinue the drugs because of adverse reactions.