by E.J. Mundell
Many older Americans have the worrisome and potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, or "a-fib," and they're typically offered medicines or a surgery called ablation to correct it. Which works best? Two new trials may have the answer. Researchers say ablation and medicines perform similarly in protecting a-fib patients from stroke, death and other complications…"When we examined the data according to the treatment actually received, the ablation group had significantly lower rates of death as well as the combination of death, disabling stroke, serious bleeding, or cardiac arrest compared with patients who only received drug therapy," said study principal investigator Dr. Douglas Packer. He's a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
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Context: Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia that affects an estimated 30 million people worldwide. New research shows that catheter ablation, a common cardiovascular procedure, appears no more effective than drug therapy to prevent strokes, deaths and other complications in patients with atrial fibrillation. But patients who receive catheter ablation experience much greater symptom relief and long-term improvements in quality of life. And they have fewer recurrences of their atrial fibrillation and fewer hospitalizations than those who receive only drugs. You can learn more about this new research in the March 15 issue of JAMA. You can read more in the news release on Mayo Clinic News Network.
Contact: Traci Klein