Impact of electrical cardioversion on quality of life for patients with symptomatic persistent atrial fibrillation: Is there a treatment expectation effect?
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It is assumed that electrical cardioversion (ECV) improves the quality of life (QoL) of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) by restoring sinus rhythm (SR). OBJECTIVE: We examined the effect of ECV and rhythm status on QoL of patients with symptomatic persistent AF in a randomized controlled trial. METHOD: The elective cardioversion for prevention of symptomatic atrial fibrillation trial examined the efficacy of dronedarone around the time of ECV in maintaining SR. Quality of life was measured with the University of Toronto Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale. The primary outcome was the change in AF symptom severity (∆AFSS) score over 6 months (0-35 points, with higher scores reflecting worse QoL and a minimal clinically important difference defined as ∆AFSS ≥3 points). Multivariable linear regression was performed to identify factors associated with changes in QoL. RESULTS: We included 148 patients with complete AFSS scores at baseline and 6 months. Over 6 months, QoL improved irrespective of rhythm status (ΔAFSS scores for patients who (i) maintained SR; (ii) had AF relapse after successful ECV; and (iii) had unsuccessful ECV were -6.8 ± 6.4 points, -4.1 ± 6.2 points, and -4.0 ± 5.8 points respectively, P < .01 for all subgroups). After adjustment of baseline covariates, maintenance of SR was associated with QoL improvement (ΔAFSS: -3.8 points, 95% CI: -6.0 to -1.6 points, P < .01). CONCLUSIONS: Maintenance of SR was associated with clinically relevant improvement in patients' QoL at 6 months. Patients with AF recurrence had a small but still relevant improvement in their QoL, potentially due to factors other than sinus rhythm.
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