Atrial Fibrillation Catheter Ablation Successful, But With Complications

HealthDay News – The overall success rate of catheter ablation in atrial fibrillation is satisfactory, but the complication rate remains considerable and a significant portion of patients remain on antiarrhythmic drugs, according to a report published online in the European Heart Journal.

Elena Arbelo, MD, PhD, a senior specialist in the Cardiovascular Institute at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues analyzed information from 3593 patients in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Their average age was 59, and all had undergone catheter ablation.

The researchers found that ablation was successful in 73.6% of patients. These patients had no atrial arrhythmias for 3 to 12 months after the procedure.Of the patients who had a successful procedure, 46% were still taking antiarrhythmic drugs 12 months later. During the year after the ablation, 10.7% suffered complications. The study investigators found that 26.2% of patients with 2 or more risk factors for stroke were not taking oral anticoagulants, but one-third (37.4%) of low-risk patients were taking them.

“Another major practice-gap that showed no significant improvement over time was the absence of appropriate assessment following the procedure,” the authors wrote. “The number of clinical visits and cardiac rhythm monitoring remains suboptimal hindering the operator/center’s ability to monitor outcomes and allow comparisons.”

Disclosures: Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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Arbelo E, Brugada J, Blomstrom C, et al. Contemporary management of patients undergoing atrial fibrillation ablation: in-hospital and 1-year follow-up findings from the ESC-EHRA atrial fibrillation ablation long-term registry [Published online January 18, 2017]. Eur Heart J. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehw564