Catheter ablation 'significantly superior' to drug therapy when treating AFib

Catheter ablation (CA) is a safe, effective treatment option for atrial fibrillation (AFib) patients who do not respond well to drug therapy, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis published in Annals of Palliative Medicine.

The research included data from 13 different studies, totaling 2,098 AFib patients. Patients ranged in age from 18 to 80 years old. While 1,151 patients underwent CA, the remaining patients were treated in the form of medication. 

Overall, CA was associated in an increase in the effects of clinical treatment, an improvement in daily life function, a decrease in body weakness, and an increase in quality-of-life score.

CA patients were also associated with a reduction in pain following treatment, less frequent repeat symptomatic AFib episodes, fewer rehospitalizations, fewer other arrhythmias and fewer instances of pulmonary vein stenosis.

The results showed that when compared with drug therapy, CA can greatly reduce incidences of adverse reactions in patients, thereby improving their clinical outcomes," wrote Peng Wang, a specialist with Fuling Central Hospital of Chongqing City in China, and colleagues. "This suggests CA is significantly superior to traditional drug treatments." ​

However, the study did come with some limitations. For example, large publication bias was found in some of the original studies the authors reviewed.

Wang et al. also noted that larger studies were still needed to to verify CA's effect on AFib.

Read the full study here.

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