Effect of radiofrequency catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation on morbidity and mortality: a nationwide cohort study and propensity score analysis

Chia-Hsuin Chang, Jou-Wei Lin, Fu-Chun Chiu, James L Caffrey, Li-Chiu Wu, Mei-Shu Lai
Circulation. Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology 2014, 7 (1): 76-82

BACKGROUND: This study examined the effect of radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFA) on reducing morbidity and mortality among patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

METHODS AND RESULTS: A retrospective cohort of patients with AF without prior stroke or heart failure (HF) who underwent RFA between 2003 and 2009 was identified using Taiwan's National Health Insurance claims database. Outpatients with AF who met the same enrollment criteria but did not receive RFA were matched (≤1:20) by hospitals and dates to serve as controls. Outcomes of interest were death, stroke, or hospitalization for HF. A proportional hazard Cox regression model adjusted by propensity scores (based on age, sex, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, comorbidities, medications, and medical resource utilization) was applied to estimate the hazard ratio and 95% confidence interval. A total of 846 patients with AF who received RFA and 11 324 matched AF controls were included, with a mean follow-up of 3.74 and 3.96 years, respectively. RFA was associated with a lower hazard for stroke (hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.94; P=0.026). The reduction in the hazard for death and HF did not reach statistical significance (hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% confidence interval, 0.62-1.23; P=0.451 and hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.55-1.12; P=0.185, respectively). Additional analysis using death as a competing risk showed similar results for stroke and HF.

CONCLUSIONS: RFA did not reduce mortality or hospitalization for HF during the immediate 3.5-year follow-up. Although a beneficial effect on stroke prevention associated with RFA was suggested, residual confounding attributable to unmeasured factors remains a concern.

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