Patients treated with catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation have long-term rates of death, stroke, and dementia similar to patients without atrial fibrillation

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2011 Aug;22(8):839-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2011.02035.x. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


Introduction: Atrial fibrillation (AF) adversely impacts mortality, stroke, heart failure, and dementia. AF ablation eliminates AF in most patients. We evaluated the long-term impact of AF ablation on mortality, heart failure (HF), stroke, and dementia in a large system-wide patient population.

Methods: A total of 4,212 consecutive patients who underwent AF ablation were compared (1:4) to 16,848 age/gender matched controls with AF (no ablation) and 16,848 age/gender matched controls without AF. Patients were enrolled from the large ongoing prospective Intermountain AF study and were followed for at least 3 years.

Results: Of the 37,908 patients, mean age 65.0 ± 13 years, 5,667 (14.9%) died, 1,296 (3.4%) had a stroke, and 1,096 (2.9%) were hospitalized for HF over >3 years of follow-up. AF ablation patients were less likely to have diabetes, but were more likely to have hypertension, HF, and significant valvular heart disease. AF ablation patients had a lower risk of death and stroke in comparison to AF patients without ablation. Alzheimer's dementia occurred in 0.2% of the AF ablation patients compared to 0.9% of the AF no ablation patients and 0.5% of the no AF patients (P < 0.0001). Other forms of dementia were also reduced significantly in those treated with ablation. Compared to patients with no AF, AF ablation patients had similar long-term rates of death, dementia, and stroke.

Conclusions: AF ablation patients have a significantly lower risk of death, stroke, and dementia in comparison to AF patients without ablation. AF ablation may eliminate the increased risk of death and stroke associated with AF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / mortality
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / mortality
  • Catheter Ablation / trends*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dementia / mortality
  • Dementia / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome