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Ablation More Effective Than Meds for Heart-Rhythm Ailment

By March 22, 2019No Comments

Using catheter ablation instead of standard drug therapy to treat the heart rhythm abnormality known as atrial fibrillation results in important favorable patient outcomes, according to two papers published March 15.

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which areas of vessels are purposely deadened so they cannot conduct erratic electrical currents within the heart. The new research, published in JAMA,associated the procedure with a significant improvement in quality of life and a reduced need for hospitalizations, compared with drug therapy. Notably, however, in the trial’s primary measure – rates of death, disabling stroke, serious bleeding and cardiac arrest – ablation was not statistically more effective than drug therapy.

These are the first results reported from the landmark Catheter Ablation Versus Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation (CABANA) trial.  It is the largest such clinical trial comparing the two treatments to alleviate atrial fibrillation.

Jeanne Poole, professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, led the research team’s investigation of recurrent arrhythmias, a subset of the findings.

“Ablation for atrial fibrillation had previously been shown to be associated with improved quality of life over drug therapy, but those early studies had limited sample sizes and short follow-up durations,” she said. “With 2,204 patients and an average follow-up duration of over four years, CABANA provides extraordinary new data that can help both physicians and patients make better-informed decisions when choosing treatments for atrial fibrillation.”