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Differences in healthcare use between patients with persistent and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation undergoing catheter‐based atrial fibrillation ablation: a population‐based cohort study from Ontario, Canada

Ha ACT, Wijeysundera HC, Qiu F, Henning K, Ahmad K, Angaran P, Birnie DH, Crystal E, Ha AH, Healey JS, Leong-Sit P, Makanjee B, Nery PB, Redfearn DB, Skanes AC, Verma A. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020; 10(1):e016071. Epub 2020 Dec 31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.016071


Background — Patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) undergoing catheter‐based AF ablation have lower success rates than those with paroxysmal AF. We compared healthcare use and clinical outcomes between patients according to their AF subtypes.

Methods and Results — Consecutive patients undergoing AF ablation were prospectively identified from a population‐based registry in Ontario, Canada. Via linkage with administrative databases, we performed a retrospective analysis comparing the following outcomes between patients with persistent and paroxysmal AF: healthcare use (defined as AF‐related hospitalizations/emergency room visits), periprocedural complications, and mortality. Multivariable Poisson modeling was performed to compare the rates of AF‐related and all‐cause hospitalizations/emergency room visits in the year before versus after ablation. Between April 2012 and March 2016, there were 3768 consecutive patients who underwent first‐time AF ablation, of whom 1040 (27.6%) had persistent AF. The mean follow‐up was 1329 days. Patients with persistent AF had higher risk of AF‐related hospitalization/emergency room visits (hazard ratio [HR], 1.21; 95% CI, 1.09–1.34), mortality (HR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.15–2.63), and periprocedural complications (odds ratio, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.02–1.75) than those with paroxysmal AF. In the overall cohort, there was a 48% reduction in the rate of AF‐related hospitalization/emergency room visits in the year after versus before ablation (rate ratio [RR], 0.52; 95% CI, 0.48–0.56). This reduction was observed for patients with paroxysmal (RR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.41–0.50) and persistent (RR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.63–0.87) AF.

Conclusions — Although patients with persistent AF had higher risk of adverse outcomes than those with paroxysmal AF, ablation was associated with a favorable reduction in downstream AF‐related healthcare use, irrespective of AF type.

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