Rev Cardiovasc Med. 2020 Sep 30;21(3):419-432. doi: 10.31083/j.rcm.2020.03.60.
Several observational studies have shown a survival benefit for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who are treated with catheter ablation (CA) rather than medical management (MM). However, data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are uncertain. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis of RCTs that compared the benefits of CA and MM in treatment of AF. We searched the Cochrane Library, PubMed, and EMBASE databases for RCTs that compared AF ablation with MM from the time of database establishment up to January 2020. The risk ratio (RR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) was used as a measure treatment effect. Twenty-six RCTs that enrolled a total of 5788 patients were included in the meta-analysis. In this meta-analysis, the effect of AF ablation depended on the baseline level of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in the heart failure (HF) patients. AF ablation appears to be of benefit to patients with a lesser degree of advanced HF and better LVEF by reducing mortality. Meanwhile, this mortality advantage was manifested in long-term follow-up. CA increased the risk for hospitalization when it was used as first-line therapy and decreased the risk when used as second-line therapy. CA reduced recurrence of atrial arrhythmia for different types of AF (paroxysmal or persistent AF) and CA-related complications were non-negligible. There was no convincing evidence for a reduction in long-term stroke risk after AF ablation, and additional high quality RCTs are needed to address that issue.