Munich, Germany – August 28 2012: Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (Afib) is safe and suppresses arrhythmia recurrences in 74% of patients after a single procedure, according to results from the one-year follow-up of the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Pilot Study, the first European registry to evaluate the real-life epidemiology of catheter ablation for AFib. The survey also showed that arrhythmia-related symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue or dizziness - present in 86% of patients before the ablation - were significantly reduced.
The findings were presented today at ESC Congress 2012 by Dr Elena Arbelo from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Spain, a co-investigator of the study.
“Atrial fibrillation is the most frequent heart rhythm disorder and it represents a highly significant burden of disease and expenditure throughout the world,” explained Dr Arbelo. “The currently available pharmacological therapies are not 100% effective, and they have secondary effects.”
While symptoms remain the major reason for Afib ablation, patients also welcome a drug-free life-style. The principal ablation strategy is the isolation of the pulmonary veins with additional linear and/or fragmented electrogram ablation in 10-20% of patients.
The AFib Ablation Pilot Study, the first registry to evaluate the day-to-day diagnostic and therapeutic processes of AFib ablation in Europe, is a prospective, multicentre, 12-month observational study which recruited 1410 patients from 10 different European countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain).
Results from the in-hospital phase of the study were presented ESC Congress 2011 and showed that two-thirds of patients having catheter ablation have paroxysmal AFib, and up to 40% have no apparent underlying cardiac disorder.(1)
Now, results from the 12-month follow-up visit period provide further details of real-life outcomes:
“The information obtained by the registry reflects everyday practice across Europe,” said Dr Arbelo. “It is remarkable to see how most hospitals are evaluating the results of catheter ablation in a much more practical way than what is recommended for clinical trials, basing it mainly on periodical electrocardiograms and occasional Holter monitoring." She added that the results offer no clear definition how a successful procedure is defined - by abolition of symptoms or the absence of arrhythmias without antiarrhythmic drugs.
Commenting on the first-year information derived from the pilot registry, Dr Arbelo said: “Atrial fibrillation is a major cardiovascular challenge in modern society and its medical and socioeconomic impact is expected to rise over the coming years. The AFib Ablation Registry provides an exceptional insight into the impact which catheter ablation may have in the management of patients with this arrhythmia."
Notes to editors 1. Arbelo E, Brugada J, Hindricks G, et al. ESC-EURObservational Research Programme: The Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Pilot Study, conducted by the European Heart Rhythm Association. Europace 2012; 14: 1094-1103.
This press release accompanies both a presentation and an ESC press conference at the ESC Congress 2012. Edited by the ESC from material supplied by the investigator himself/herself, this press release does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology. The content of the press release has been approved by the investigator. Refers to session: Hot Line III: Late Breaking Trials on Arrhythmias and CAD Refers to press conference: Hotline III: Late Breaking Trials on Arrhythmias and CAD
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