HealthDay News — For patients undergoing atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation, higher cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with reduced arrhythmia recurrence rates and death, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Heart Rhythm.

Eoin Donnellan, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues examined the association between baseline CRF measured using exercise stress testing (EST) and outcomes after AF ablation. A total of 591 patients who underwent EST within 12 months prior to AF ablation were studied. The patients were categorized into low, adequate, and high CRF groups (<85 percent predicted; 85 to 100 percent predicted; and >100 percent predicted, respectively).

The researchers found that during a mean follow-up of 32 months following ablation, arrhythmia recurrence occurred in 79, 54, and 27.5 percent of patients in the low, adequate, and high CRF groups, respectively. Similarly, the high CRF group had significantly lower rates of repeat arrhythmia-related hospitalization, repeat rhythm control procedures, and need for ongoing antiarrhythmic therapy. Death occurred in 2.5, 4, and 11 percent of patients in the high, adequate, and low CRF groups, respectively. There was a significant association seen for high CRF with lower recurrence of arrhythmia in Cox proportional hazards analyses.

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“Where possible, efforts should be made to enhance CRF in patients with symptomatic AF who are being considered for ablation,” the authors write.

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