Rhythmic and haemodynamic determinants of long-term survival after radiofrequency ablation of atrial fibrillation in mitral valve surgery

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The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of sinus rhythm recovery on long-term survival after radiofrequency (RF) ablation in patients with permanent atrial fibrillation (AF) undergoing surgery for mitral valve disease.

Methods and results

This study included 173 consecutive patients (101 men and 72 women, age 67 ± 9 years) with AF and mitral valve disease who underwent RF ablation procedure associated with mitral valve surgery. Four patients died during hospitalization. At the 6-year follow-up, sinus rhythm was present in 68% of the surviving patients. Thirty-nine patients remained in persistent AF after hospital discharge. In patients with stable sinus rhythm, mortality (10 vs. 30%) and recurrent hospitalization were significantly lower than in patients with persistent AF, but functional capacity improved. The incidence of stroke was also lower in patients with stable sinus rhythm. A pre-operative higher right and left atrial area, pulmonary hypertension, and rheumatic disease were associated with the persistence of AF despite RF ablation. At multivariate analysis, only age and concomitant tricuspid valve repair were independently associated with mortality, whereas the right atria area and tricuspid valve repair were associated with persistent AF.


Although the re-establishment of sinus rhythm by unipolar RF ablation is associated with a higher survival rate after mitral valve surgery, our data suggest that a more severe haemodynamic impairment, in particular in patients with rheumatic valve disease, may be responsible both for higher long-term mortality and lower rate of sinus rate maintenance.

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