Study: Ablation Beats Drugs for Atrial Fibrillation
Catheter Ablation Better Than Drugs at Treating Some Atrial Fibrillation Patients
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Catheter Ablation Beats Drugs
The international study conducted by Wilber and colleagues included 167
patients with intermittent, symptomatic episodes of atrial fibrillation who had
been treated unsuccessfully with at least one drug for arrhythmia.
All of the patients had experienced at least three symptomatic A-fib
episodes within six months of enrollment.
A total of 106 had the catheter procedure and 61 were treated with drugs
approved for A-fib treatment that they had not previously taken. Drugs included
dofetilide (Tikosyn), flecainide (Tambocor), propafenone (Rythmol), sotalol
(Betapace), or quinidine.
After nine months of follow-up, 66% of patients in the catheter ablation
group remained free of verified A-fib with symptoms vs. 16% of patients treated
Burr Hall, MD, who was involved in the study, says the findings show a clear
benefit for patients with intermittent A-fib who have tried drug
Hall leads the electrophysiology team at the University of Rochester Medical
Center in Rochester, N.Y.
“This subset represents a large number of the A-fib patients in this
country,” he tells WebMD.
Another major study is under way to determine if ablation patients live
longer than patients treated with drugs.
American Heart Disease spokesman Kenneth Ellenbogen, MD, says the study
should increase awareness within the medical community about the superiority of
catheter ablation in this group of patients.
“Catheter ablation is incredibly effective and far more effective than drugs
in patients who have already failed drug therapy,” he tells WebMD.