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Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2011 Jun;4(3):271-8. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.111.962100. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

Natural history and long-term outcomes of ablated atrial fibrillation.

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Center for Atrial Fibrillation, the Cleveland Clinic, OH, USA.



Atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation is increasingly used in clinical practice. We aimed to study the natural history and long-term outcomes of ablated AF.


We followed 831 patients after pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) performed in 2005. We documented clinical outcomes using our prospective AF registry with most recent update on this group of patients in October 2009. In the first year after ablation, 23.8% had early recurrence. Over long-term follow-up (55 months), only 8.9% had late arrhythmia recurrence defined as occurring beyond the first year after ablation. Repeat ablations in patients with late recurrence revealed conduction recovery in at least 1 of the previously isolated PVs in all of them and right-sided triggers with isoproterenol testing in 55.6%. At last follow-up, clinical improvement was 89.9% (79.4% arrhythmia-free off antiarrhythmic drugs and 10.5% with AF controlled with antiarrhythmic drugs). Only 4.6% continued to have drug-resistant AF. It was possible to safely discontinue anticoagulation in a substantial proportion of patients with no recurrence in the year after ablation (CHADS score ≤2, stroke incidence of 0.06% per year). The procedure-related complication rate was very low.


Pulmonary vein isolation is safe and efficacious for long-term maintenance of sinus rhythm and control of symptoms in patients with drug-resistant AF. It obviates the need for antiarrhythmic drugs, negative dromotropic agents, and anticoagulants in a substantial proportion of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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