Health-related quality of life in patients with atrial fibrillation treated with rhythm control versus rate control: insights from a prospective international registry (Registry on Cardiac Rhythm Disorders Assessing the Control of Atrial Fibrillation: RECORD-AF)

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2014 Nov;7(6):896-904. doi: 10.1161/HCQ.0000000000000011. Epub 2014 Nov 11.


Background: Improving health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an important treatment goal in the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Uncertainty exists as to whether patients' HRQoL differ when treated with medical rhythm control or rate control. We compared HRQoL between patients treated with rhythm control or rate control in a large observational registry of patients with recent-onset AF.

Methods and results: In the Registry on Cardiac Rhythm Disorders Assessing the Control of Atrial Fibrillation (RECORD-AF), 2439 patients with recent onset (<1 year) AF completed an AF-specific HRQoL questionnaire, the University of Toronto Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale. HRQoL was assessed by the AF symptom severity score (0-35, with higher scores reflecting more severe AF-related symptoms) at baseline and 1 year. The minimal clinically important difference was defined as a change of ≥3 points. The primary analysis was based on a propensity score-adjusted longitudinal regression analysis which compared the change in AF symptom severity scores between the 2 groups. Over an average follow-up of 1 year, the AF symptom severity scores improved in both groups (rhythm control: -2.82 point [95% confidence interval, -3.22 to -2.41]; rate control: -2.11 point [95% confidence interval, -2.54 to -1.67]; P<0.01 for both groups). The magnitude of improvement was higher in the rhythm control group than the rate control group (unadjusted difference: -0.75 point; 95% confidence interval, -1.31 to -0.19; P=0.01; propensity score-adjusted difference: -0.71 point; 95% confidence interval, -1.31 to -0.11; P=0.02).

Conclusions: In this observational cohort of recent-onset AF patients, treatment with medical rhythm- or rate control over 1 year was associated with an improvement in HRQoL. The magnitude of HRQoL improvement was minimally higher in patients treated with rhythm control than rate control. However, the overall degree of improvement was not large, and its clinical significance was uncertain.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / psychology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Registries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents