Cryoballoon Ablation as Initial Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation: JACC State-of-the-Art Review

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 Aug 31;78(9):914-930. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.06.038.


Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained arrhythmia observed in clinical practice, is a chronic and progressive disorder characterized by exacerbations and remissions. Guidelines recommend antiarrhythmic drugs as the initial therapy for the maintenance of sinus rhythm; however, antiarrhythmic drugs have modest efficacy to maintain sinus rhythm and can be associated with significant adverse effects. An initial treatment strategy of cryoballoon catheter ablation in patients with treatment-naïve AF has been shown to significantly improve arrhythmia outcomes (freedom from any, or symptomatic atrial tachyarrhythmia), produce clinically meaningful improvements in patient-reported outcomes (symptoms and quality of life), and significantly reduce subsequent health care resource use (hospitalization), and it does not increase the risk of serious or any adverse events compared with initial antiarrhythmic drug therapy. These findings are relevant to inform patients, providers, and health care systems regarding the initial choice of rhythm-control therapy in patients with treatment-naïve AF.

Keywords: ablation; antiarrhythmic drugs; atrial fibrillation; catheter ablation; cryoballoon; cryotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review