Background and objective: To combine the results of the best scientific evidence in order to compare the effects of cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in heart failure patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and in sinus rhythm (SR) and to determine the effect of atrioventricular nodal ablation in AF patients.
Methods: The electronic databases PubMed, B-On and Cochrane CENTRAL were searched, and manual searches were performed, for randomized controlled trials and cohort studies up to November 2012. The endpoints analyzed were all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and response to CRT.
Results: We included 19 studies involving 5324 patients: 1399 in AF and 3925 in SR. All-cause mortality was more likely in patients with AF compared to patients in SR (OR = 1.69; 95% CI: 1.20–2.37; p = 0.002). There were no statistically significant differences in cardiovascular mortality (OR = 1.36; 95% CI: 0.92–2.01; p = 0.12). AF was associated with an increased likelihood of lack of response to CRT (OR = 1.41; 95% CI: 1.15–1.73; p = 0.001). Among subjects with AF, ablation of the atrioventricular node was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality (OR = 0.42; 95% CI: 0.22–0.80; p = 0.008), cardiovascular death (OR = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.20–0.75; p = 0.005) and the number of non-responders to CRT (OR = 0.30; 95% CI: 0.10–0.90; p = 0.03).
Conclusions: The presence of AF is associated with increased likelihood of all-cause death and non-response to CRT, compared to patients in SR. However, many patients with AF benefit from CRT. Atrioventricular nodal ablation appears to increase the benefits of CRT in patients with AF.