Catheter ablation, a common cardiovascular procedure, appears no more effective than drug therapies in preventing strokes, deaths, and other complications in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, patients who get the procedure experience much greater symptom relief and long-term improvements in the quality of life, including fewer recurrences of the condition and fewer hospitalizations, than those who get only drugs. The findings are from two new studies published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The papers report the outcomes of the Catheter Ablation versus Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation (CABANA) trial, funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. It was a randomized trial that compared state-of-the-art drug therapies for atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat — to ablation, a procedure in which a doctor inserts a catheter through a patient’s blood vessels to scar or destroy heart tissue causing the irregularities. ReadMore