Radiofrequency Ablation Versus Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation: Meta-analysis of Safety and Efficacy
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BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) are the main treatments used for atrial fibrillation (AF). In recent years, a number of articles comparing the 2 treatments have begun to emerge. Though, the influence of follow-up time in the meta-analysis was not considered in these articles. However, more recently, large-scale clinical trial articles have included follow-up with the patients up to 5 years after treatment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the impact of variable follow-up times on the recurrence of AF by observing both the short-term and long-term efficacy and safety of catheter ablation and AADs for the treatment of AF. METHODS AND RESULTS: The primary investigators of eligible randomized controlled trials were invited to contribute standardized outcome data. Random effect summary estimates were calculated as standardized mean differences and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for continuous and binary outcomes. In this study, 9 randomized controlled trials (n = 1542 patients) were included. The rate of recurrence of AF with no limit on follow-up time, >12 months, >18 months, >24 months, >30 months, and approximately 36 months was compared. Furthermore, the gap between the RFA and AAD groups in the recurrence rate of AF was found to decrease inversely to follow-up time. When the follow-up time reached 24 months, the difference between RFA and AAD was relatively stable with an odds ratio of 0.45 (95% confidence interval: 0.32-0.62). Overall, RFA decreased adverse events in the remaining trials; however, AAD performed better in terms of safety and had fewer adverse events with RFA usually causing more serious complications. CONCLUSION: RFA is more advantageous in terms of recurrence rate of AF than drug therapy. In addition, the analysis suggests that this effect persists during long-term follow-up; however, these benefits appear to decrease with longer follow-up time. Finally, AAD performed better in terms of safety and had fewer adverse events.
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