New trial shows better AF treatment with catheter ablation


Researchers at the University of Utah Health in the US and Klinikum Coburg in Germany have conducted a clinical trial (CASTLE-AF) using radiofrequency catheter ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF).

In the ablation process, the catheter is passed through a patient’s body to the site with abnormal heart cells and a dose of radiofrequency energy is delivered to destroy the abnormal cells, restoring the regular rhythm of the heart.

When compared to traditional drug therapies, the results from the trial indicated a 47% decrease in hospitalisation and a 44% reduction in mortality rate.

Led by Marrouche and Johannes Brachmann from the Klinikum Coburg, the eight-year CASTLE-AF clinical trial included 363 temporary or persistent AF and heart failure subjects who were recruited after screening 3,000 patients across North America, Europe and Australia.

Patients who received prior implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for continuous monitoring of the heart rate were involved in the trial.

"This clinical trial is the first time we can show with hard data that ablation is saving more lives than arrhythmia medications."

With 179 participants receiving radiofrequency catheter ablation and 184 undergoing a standard drug therapy, the trial’s end point was all-cause mortality and worsening of heart failure leading to an unplanned overnight hospitalisation.

Marrouche said: “This clinical trial is the first time we can show with hard data that ablation is saving more lives than arrhythmia medications.

“It also lowers the cost of treating patients by keeping them out of hospital due to lower incidence of worsening heart failure.”

Biotronik, a company that focuses on cardiovascular and endovascular diseases, supported this research.


Image: Atrial fibrillation. Photo: courtesy of BruceBlaus via Wikipedia.