Ablation versus medical therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation: An updated meta-analysis

Clin Cardiol. 2024 Feb;47(2):e24184. doi: 10.1002/clc.24184. Epub 2023 Nov 8.


To investigate the effect of ablation compared to medical therapy on clinical outcomes of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and Web of Science databases were searched using ablation, medical treatment, AF, and related words. The effect of ablation and medical therapy was sought to be gathered on stroke or transitional ischemic attack, mortality, hospitalization, recurrence of AF, progression of AF, and left ventricular ejection fraction. Analyses were performed using R software. 31 studies (the results of 27 randomized controlled trials), compromising an overall 6965 patients (Ablation, n = 3643; Medical treatment, n = 3322) were reviewed in our study, revealed that catheter ablation would result in substantial benefits for patients with AF without significant difference in serious adverse events compared to medical management (Risk Ratio: 0.92, [95% Confidence Interval (CI), 0.64-1.33]). Catheter ablation in patients with AF significantly resulted in a 29% reduction in all-cause mortality (RR: 0.71, [95% CI, 0.57-0.88]), a 57% reduction in hospitalization (RR: 0.43, [95% CI, 0.27-0.67]), a 53% reduction in AF recurrence (RR: 0.47, [95% CI, 0.36-0.61]), and a dramatic reduction, 89%, in progression of paroxysmal to persistent AF (RR: 0.11, [95% CI, 0.02-0.65]); also associated with a remarkable improvement in their left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) (Mean Difference, MD: 6.84%, [95% CI, 3.27-10.42]) compared to medical therapy. Our study showed that ablation may be superior to medical therapy in patients with AF regarding AF recurrence, mortality, LVEF improvement, hospitalization, and AF progression outcomes.

Keywords: antiarrhythmic drugs; atrial fibrillation; catheter ablation; medical therapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / surgery
  • Catheter Ablation* / methods
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stroke Volume
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Function, Left


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents