Introduction: Sports activity has been associated with the development of atrial arrhythmias. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is frequently observed after successful ablation for atrial flutter. Sports activity as a risk factor for AF development after flutter ablation has not been studied.
Methods: We analyzed outcome in 137 patients (83% men) after ablation for isthmus-dependent atrial flutter (excluding patients with concomitant ablation for atrial tachycardia or fibrillation). Sports activity before and after ablation was evaluated by detailed questionnaires. Endurance sports was defined as (semi-)competitive participation in cycling, running or swimming for > or =3 h/week (and for > or =3 years pre-ablation). Median follow-up was 2.5 years. Survival free of AF was evaluated with Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank statistics. Multivariate analysis was based on Cox proportional hazard evaluation.
Results: Acute ablation success was 99% and flutter recurrence 4.4%. Thirty-one patients (23%) had been regularly engaged in endurance sports before ablation and 19 (14%) continued regular sports activity afterwards. Those performing sports were slightly younger. A history of endurance sports was a significant risk factor for post-ablation AF (univariate HR 1.96 (1.19-3.22), p<0.01, and multivariate HR 1.81 (1.10-2.98), p=0.02). Also continuation of endurance sports activity after ablation showed a trend for increased risk to develop AF despite a relatively small sample size (n=19; multivariate HR 1.68 (0.92-3.06), p=0.08). Cox proportional hazard calculations revealed a 10% and 11% increased risk for AF development per weekly hour sport performed before and after ablation respectively (p<0.01 for both).
Conclusion: A history of endurance sports activity is associated with the development of AF after ablation of atrial flutter.