Effectiveness of catheter ablation versus antiarrhythmic drug therapy for atrial fibrillation

Paul G Novak
Current Opinion in Cardiology 2009, 24 (1): 9-17

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The optimal treatments for atrial fibrillation have long been sought among rhythm control and rate control strategies. Unfortunately, rhythm control strategies with antiarrhythmic drugs have proven to be a disappointment. Catheter ablation techniques, however, have been rapidly advancing and have the potential to offer a permanent cure. Rhythm control with catheter ablation may in fact be a superior treatment modality for atrial fibrillation. The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence in favor of this argument.

RECENT FINDINGS: The dissatisfaction with poorly performing antiarrhythmic drug therapies for the treatment of atrial fibrillation has fueled the development of alternative therapies for rhythm control. Catheter ablation has emerged as a viable, efficacious, and safe alternative. In fact, in head to head comparisons with antiarrhythmic drugs, catheter ablation continues to come out on top with often markedly superior performances. In addition to efficacy and safety, catheter ablation also seems to be a fiscally viable alternative.

SUMMARY: On the basis of the outstanding performance of catheter ablation compared with antiarrhythmic drug therapy, it is not surprising to see its widespread adoption and ever expanding indications.

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