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Efficacy and safety of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation in elderly patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: Catheter ablation (CA) is a well-established therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF); however, there is paucity of data for elderly patients. We aimed to assess long-term efficacy and safety of CA for elderly patients with AF.

METHODS: Medline, BVS, Cochrane, and Embase were searched through April 2023 to investigate comparative outcomes between elderly patients > 75 or 80 years, as per-study cutoff, and individuals ≤ 75/80 years, undergoing CA. Primary efficacy and safety endpoints (AF recurrence and procedure-related major complications) were pooled with the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis 3.0 software. Subgroup analyses were performed by age groups and type of procedure (radiofrequency vs. cryoballoon).

RESULTS: Four thousand eight hundred twenty-nine titles were screened, and 27 studies were included, being 26 observational and 1 randomized trial, comprising 117,869 patients, being 8714 (7.4%) elderly > 75/80 years, with follow-up from 11.7 to 72.3 months. In comparative studies (N = 17 studies), elderly > 75/80 years had a higher risk of AF recurrence compared to those ≤ 75/80: relative risk (RR) 1.16 (95% CI 1.05-1.27, p = 0.002. However, funnel plot indicated publication bias, and after imputation of 5 studies, the groups were similar (RR 1.07 (95% CI 0.97-1.19)). The rates of major complications (N = 14 studies) were higher in elderly > 75/80 years (RR 1.30 (95% CI 1.10-1.54), I2  = 0, p = 0.002), but were similar in cryoablation studies (N = 7) (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.94-1.29, p = 0.24, I2  = 0.0). Results were similar when individual study arms (N = 27 studies) were pooled.

CONCLUSION: AF ablation is feasible in elderly patients > 75/80 years, with success rates compared to younger individuals. Complication rates, however, were higher.

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