A clinical trial led by cardiologists at Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals and Imperial College London has illustrated significant benefits from catheter ablation in a trial of patients with heart failure and persistent atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of irregular heartbeat.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), looked at over 50 patients and compared medical rate-control therapy with catheter ablation – a type of transcatheter procedure using radiofrequency energy to destroy the area causing the abnormal heart rhythm.
Dr David Jones, consultant cardiologist at Harefield Hospital, who led the study commented: "This study has shown, for the first time, a clear benefit of ablation therapy over the contemporary standard of care, namely tablet-based 'rate-control'."
After 12 months patients who had the ablation saw improvement in exercise capacity and quality of life compared with the patients on rate-control treatment.
"Even in this small study, we have shown a significant improvement in these patients. The procedures are typically long, with lots of ablation, and a very sick patient population where you need the expertise to be sure you get a good clinical outcome and minimise the complication rate. If you can achieve that, then I think the patient will benefit," added Dr Tom Wong, consultant cardiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital, and senior investigator for the trial.
Consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist