Atrial fibrillation ablation patients have long-term stroke rates similar to patients without atrial fibrillation regardless of CHADS2 score

Heart Rhythm. 2013 Sep;10(9):1272-7. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Jul 5.


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a leading cause of total and fatal ischemic stroke. Stroke risk after AF ablation appears to be favorably affected; however, it is largely unknown whether the benefit extends to all stroke CHADS2 risk profiles of AF patients.

Objective: To determine if ablation of atrial fibrillation reduces stroke rates in all risk groups.

Methods: A total of 4212 consecutive patients who underwent AF ablation were compared (1:4) with 16,848 age-/sex-matched controls with AF (no ablation) and to 16,848 age-/sex-matched controls without AF. Patients were enrolled from the large ongoing prospective Intermountain Atrial Fibrillation Study and were followed for at least 3 years.

Results: Of the 37,908 patients, the mean age was 65.0 ± 13 years and 4.4% (no AF), 6.3% (AF, no ablation), and 4.5% (AF ablation) patients had a prior stroke (P < .0001). The profile of CHADS2 scores between comparative groups was similar: 0-1 (69.3%, no AF; 62.3%, AF, no ablation; 63.6%, AF ablation), 2-3 (26.5%, no AF; 29.7%, AF, no ablation; 28.7%, AF ablation), and ≥4 (4.3%, no AF; 8.0%, AF, no ablation; 7.7%, AF ablation). A total of 1296 (3.4%) patients had a stroke over the follow-up period. Across all CHADS2 profiles and ages, AF patients with ablation had a lower long-term risk of stroke compared to patients without ablation. Furthermore, AF ablation patients had similar long-term risks of stroke across all CHADS2 profiles and ages compared to patients with no history of AF.

Conclusions: In our study populations, AF ablation patients have a significantly lower risk of stroke compared to AF patients who do not undergo ablation independent of baseline stroke risk score.

Keywords: AF; Atrial fibrillation; Atrium; CVA; Catheter ablation; ICD-9; International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision; OR; Risk factors; Stroke; atrial fibrillation; cerebrovascular accident; odds ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / prevention & control
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*