Incidence and outcomes of cerebrovascular events complicating catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation

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Cerebrovascular complications are relatively uncommon, but severe adverse events are associated with catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF). This study aimed to investigate the incidence, risk factors, and hospital outcomes of cerebrovascular events complicating AF ablation.

Methods and results

Cerebrovascular complications occurring during the procedure or hospitalization after AF ablation were assessed. Cerebrovascular events occurred in 9 of 1946 consecutive procedures (0.46%). Seven patients (0.36% per procedure) were diagnosed with ischaemic stroke and two patients (0.1% per procedure) with intracranial haemorrhage (ICH). Six events (6/9, 66.7%) occurred during the ablation and the remainders within 24 h after the ablation. Multivariable analysis revealed that previous ischaemic stroke [odds ratio (OR) 10.549; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.551–43.625, P = 0.001] and mechanical valve replacement (OR 3.261; 95% CI 1.337–7.953, P = 0.009) were independent predictors. In a separate model, CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥3 (OR 7.992; 95% CI 2.046–31.215, P = 0.003) and mechanical valve replacement (OR 4.104; 95% CI 1.644–10.245, P = 0.002) were significantly associated with cerebrovascular complications. All patients survived to discharge except the two cases with ICH.


Cerebrovascular complications related to catheter ablation of AF are relatively infrequent and typically occur early either during the procedure or within the first 24 h after AF ablation. Previous ischaemic stroke, mechanical valve replacement, and CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥3 are independent predictors of such complications. The majority of these events are ischaemic stroke with a benign clinical outcome, while ICH may correlate with poor prognosis.

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