How ablation may help treat atrial fibrillation

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New York, June 30 (IANS) Using catheter-based ablation instead of medications alone may reduce the risks of death and stroke in patients with the common form of heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation (AFib), a new study, led by an Indian-origin researcher, suggests.

The study, published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, found that, among the study participants, 84 patients in the ablation group died as did 189 in the control group.

They also found that 55 patients in the ablation group had ischemic strokes and 86 in the control group. Also, 17 patients in the ablation group had hemorrhagic strokes, and 53 in the control group.

“Less than 2 per cent of patients undergo ablation early in the course of AFib when the procedure can be most beneficial,” said lead author Uma Srivatsa, professor at University of California Davis Health.

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“Our study shows that ablation may be considered as a primary treatment for everyone with the condition,” Srivatsa added.

According to the researchers, ablation is currently only recommended when AFib medications don’t work or aren’t well tolerated.

Ablation is a more long-term solution that involves using heat or extreme cold to destroy the heart tissue responsible for the faulty electrical signals, reducing the need for rhythm-control medications.

For the study, the researchers evaluated medical records for AFib patients hospitalised between 2005 and 2013.

Two groups of about 4,000 each were compared, one that was treated with ablation and another that was not. The groups were matched in terms of AFib patterns and prior hospitalisations.

Outcomes for both groups were similar in terms of rates of death, ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke within 30 days of hospitalisation. However, beyond 30 days the benefits of ablation were apparent.

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“Our data supports wider utilisation of ablation along with improving the awareness of its benefits,” Srivatsa noted.

–IANS

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