Cardioversion and subsequent quality of life and natural history of atrial fibrillation

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Abstract

Background

Cardioversion is a class I procedure for patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF) pursuing rhythm control. There are few contemporary reports on quality of life and outcomes after cardioversion.

Methods

Using the nationwide prospective ORBIT-AF registry, cardioversion patients were propensity matched 3:1 to noncardioverted patients and Cox proportional hazards modeling evaluated hospitalization at 1 year in those with and without cardioversion. Cardiovascular outcomes, AF progression, and quality of life were evaluated for the matched cohorts with and without cardioversion.

Results

Among 9,642 patients, 817 patients (8%) underwent 906 cardioversions during a median follow-up of 12 (interquartile range 6-18) months. Among matched cardioverted and noncardioverted patients, 1-year cardiovascular hospitalization rates were 43% vs 21% (adjusted hazard ratio 2.2, 95% CI 1.8-2.8, P < .001), and sinus rhythm at both first and second follow-ups was 36% vs 27% (P = .042), respectively. Findings were similar among first-time cardioversion patients. Matched cardioversion patients did not exhibit greater symptom improvement (34% vs 42%) or less symptomatic progression (15% vs 4%) by European Heart Rhythm Association scores. Cardioversion was associated with AF progression with an odds ratio of 1.6 (95% CI 1.2-2.2, P = .001) after cardioversion and 2.7 (P < .001) after first cardioversion vs matched noncardioversion patients. After cardioversion, only 18% of patients not previously on an antiarrhythmic started one, less than 5% underwent ablation, and 22% stopped their antiarrhythmic.

Conclusions

Cardioversion was not associated with improved AF-related quality of life or less progression. Many patients who undergo cardioversion do not receive adjunctive rhythm control therapies. These findings may help to better inform therapeutic decision making.

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