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Is Rhythm Control with Pulmonary Vein Isolation Superior to Rate Control with AV Nodal Ablation in Patients with Heart Failure?


BACKGROUND: Pulmonary-vein isolation is increasingly being used to treat atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure. METHODS: In this prospective, multicenter clinical trial, we randomly assigned patients with symptomatic, drug-resistant atrial fibrillation, an ejection fraction of 40% or less, and New York Heart Association class II or III heart failure to undergo either pulmonary-vein isolation or atrioventricular-node ablation with biventricular pacing. All patients completed the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure questionnaire (scores range from 0 to 105, with a higher score indicating a worse quality of life) and underwent echocardiography and a 6-minute walk test (the composite primary end point). Over a 6-month period, patients were monitored for both symptomatic and asymptomatic episodes of atrial fibrillation. RESULTS: In all, 41 patients underwent pulmonary-vein isolation, and 40 underwent atrioventricular-node ablation with biventricular pacing; none were lost to follow-up at 6 months. The composite primary end point favored the group that underwent pulmonary-vein isolation, with an improved questionnaire score at 6 months (60, vs. 82 in the group that underwent atrioventricular-node ablation with biventricular pacing; P<0.001), a longer 6-minute-walk distance (340 m vs. 297 m, P<0.001), and a higher ejection fraction (35% vs. 28%, P<0.001). In the group that underwent pulmonary-vein isolation, 88% of patients receiving antiarrhythmic drugs and 71% of those not receiving such drugs were free of atrial fibrillation at 6 months. In the group that underwent pulmonary-vein isolation, pulmonary-vein stenosis developed in two patients, pericardial effusion in one, and pulmonary edema in another; in the group that underwent atrioventricular-node ablation with biventricular pacing, lead dislodgment was found in one patient and pneumothorax in another. CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary-vein isolation was superior to atrioventricular-node ablation with biventricular pacing in patients with heart failure who had drug-refractory atrial fibrillation. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00599976.) 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society

Credits: Khan MN, Ja´s P; Cummings J; Di Biase L; Sanders P; Martin DO; Kautzner J; Hao S; Themistoclakis S; Fanelli R; Potenza D; Massaro R; Wazni O; Schweikert R; Saliba W; Wang P; Al-Ahmad A; Beheiry S; Santarelli P; Starling RC; Dello Russo A; Pelargonio G; Brachmann J; Schibgilla V; Bonso A; Casella M; Raviele A; Ha´ssaguerre M; Natale A



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