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Am Heart J. 2009 Jul;158(1):15-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2009.05.012.

Mortality after catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation compared with antiarrhythmic drug therapy. A meta-analysis of randomized trials.

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University of Athens, Second Cardiology Department, Attikon University Hospital, Rimini 1, Haidari, Athens, Greece.



Nonrandomized studies suggest a survival benefit for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) undergoing catheter ablation compared with antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy. Data from randomized trials are lacking. We performed a meta-analysis on mortality in randomized controlled trials comparing AF ablation with AADs.


Pubmed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and abstracts of major conferences were searched for randomized trials comparing AF catheter ablation with AADs. Eight trials with a total of 930 patients were analyzed. Trial quality was assessed by a modified Jadad scale. Follow-up was 1 year in most trials. We assessed fixed effect risk differences (RDs) with the Mantel-Haenzel method, heterogeneity with I(2) statistic, and publication bias with Begg's funnel plot and with Egger's test.


A total of 7 deaths were reported: 3 in the ablation and 4 in the AAD arm. There was no difference in mortality between AF ablation and AAD therapy. The RD of mortality in all trials between patients randomized to ablation and those randomized to AADs was -0.003 (95% CI -0.018 to 0.013, P = .74) without evidence for heterogeneity (I(2) = 0%, P = .907). No potential publication bias was found. There was also no difference in rates of stroke or transient ischemic attack between ablation and antiarrhythmic therapy for AF (RD = 0.004, 95% CI -0.010 to 0.018, P = .54).


This meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showed similar survival of patients undergoing catheter ablation for AF compared with patients treated with AADs after 12 months of follow-up. There was also no difference in the rates of stroke or transient ischemic attack. These findings can be probably explained by the low-risk young populations who were included in the trials and the relatively short 12-month follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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