Relationship of Quality of Life With Procedural Success of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Ablation and Postablation AF Burden: Substudy of the STAR AF Randomized Trial
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BACKGROUND: The Substrate and Trigger Ablation for Reduction of Atrial Fibrillation (STAR AF) trial compared 3 strategies for ablation of high-burden paroxysmal/persistent atrial fibrillation (AF): complex fractionated electrogram ablation (CFE), pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), or a combined approach (PVI with CFE). This subanalysis aimed to identify the effect on quality of life (QOL) conferred by ablation strategy, AF recurrence, and type of AF. METHODS: The STAR AF study (n = 100) found 88%, 68%, and 38% freedom from AF > 30 seconds at 12 months for PVI with CFE, PVI, and CFE approaches, respectively (P = 0.001). QOL was measured before ablation and at 12 months after ablation using the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scale. Transformed scores were calculated for each of the 8 subscales of the SF-36, and also converted to physical health and mental health component scores. RESULTS: There was a significant improvement in physical health (24%) and mental health (19%) component scores from baseline to 12 months after ablation (P < 0.05 for both). Significant QOL improvements were seen for all 3 ablation strategies despite differences in outcome. QOL measurements also improved regardless of AF recurrence, except in patients with an AF burden in the highest quartile (median 27.2 hours per month). AF recurrence independently predicted aggregate QOL score. CONCLUSIONS: QOL after AF ablation improves regardless of procedural outcome. QOL scores were only negatively affected in patients with a high symptomatic burden of arrhythmia recurrence suggesting that significant reduction in AF burden can improve QOL without total elimination of AF.
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