Thirty-day readmissions after atrial fibrillation catheter ablation in patients with heart failure

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2020 Sep;43(9):930-940. doi: 10.1111/pace.14013. Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Background: Randomized clinical trial data have demonstrated catheter ablation (CA) as a viable treatment modality for atrial fibrillation (AF). Patients with heart failure (HF) undergoing AF CA appear to derive improvements in quality of life and mortality compared to those treated with medical therapy (MT). Contemporary national data on 30-day readmissions after CA compared to MT among patients with HF are lacking.

Methods: From the 2016 Nationwide Readmissions Databases, 749 776 (weighted national estimate: 1 421 673) AF HF patients were identified of which 2204 (0.3%) underwent CA and 747 572 (99.7%) received MT. Propensity matching balanced baseline clinical characteristics. Thirty-day readmission rates, causes, predictors, and costs of 30-day readmission were compared.

Results: Among both the unmatched and matched cohorts, 30-day readmissions were lower for patients treated with CA compared to MT (16.8% vs 20.1%, P < .001 and 16.8% vs 18.8%, P = .020). CA was associated with reduced risk of readmission compared to MT (odds ratio 0.86, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.77-0.97). HF exacerbation and arrhythmias were the most common cause for 30-day readmission after CA. CA costs were higher during index hospitalization but similar to MT during readmission among the matched cohort ($15 858 ± $21 636 vs $16 505 ± $29 171, P = .67). Predictors of readmission were largely nonmodifiable risk factors among both the CA and MT groups.

Conclusions: Nearly one in six patients with HF is readmitted within 30-days after undergoing CA. In propensity matched analyses, CA was associated with decreased rate and risk for readmission compared to MT. CA has higher index hospitalization costs, but lower readmission costs.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; catheter ablation; heart failure; nationwide readmission database; readmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life
  • United States