Aims: To assess the clinical benefit of cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) compared with patients in sinus rhythm (SR), and to evaluate the impact of atrioventricular junction (AVJ) ablation on the outcome of AF patients undergoing CRT.
Methods and results: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 131 consecutive heart failure (HF) patients who underwent CRT implantation. Three groups were considered: SR (n = 78), AF with AVJ ablation (n = 26), and AF without AVJ ablation (n = 27). Patients were evaluated for the occurrence of cardiac death, hospitalization for HF, and responsiveness to CRT (survival with improvement of >or=1 New York Heart Association class at 6 months). The three groups showed a significant improvement in functional class. However, the proportion of responders was significantly lower in AF patients without AVJ ablation (52 vs. 79% in SR and 85% in AF with AVJ ablation, P < 0.008). Atrial fibrillation without AVJ ablation was also independently associated with mortality (HR 5.22, 95% CI: 1.60-17.01, P = 0.006) and hospitalization for HF during the first 12 months (HR 6.23, 95% CI: 2.09-18.54, P = 0.001). The outcomes of AF with AVJ ablation patients were similar to the outcomes of patients in SR.
Conclusion: Sinus rhythm and AF patients display similar survival and clinical improvement after CRT implantation, provided that AVJ ablation is performed in the latter.