Patients' and Physicians' Perceptions Regarding the Benefits of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

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Abstract

Background:

It is unclear whether patients and physicians understand that atrial fibrillation ablation (AFA) has been shown to only improve symptomology and not reduce morbidity or mortality.

Methods:

Note that 177 of 445 (40%) consecutive patients referred to an electrophysiology clinic for atrial fibrillation (AF) management responded anonymously to our survey via mail. Note that 105 of 656 (15%) physicians responded to our survey via email. Comparisons among groups were conducted using χ2 test for categorical variables. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by using a multivariate logistic regression model.

Results:

Almost half of patients and physicians believed AF ablation (AFA) would eliminate the need for anticoagulation (43% vs. 44%, P > 0.05) while the majority of both groups believed AFA would improve survival (58% vs. 67%, P = 0.308). The great majority of both groups believed AFA would decrease stroke rates (89% vs. 80%, P = 0.106). When comparing noncardiologists (n = 86) to cardiologists (n = 19), noncardiologists were more likely to believe that an AFA would eliminate the need for anticoagulation 49% vs. 21% (X = 4.9, P = 0.04), improve survival 80% vs. 11% (X = 30.2, P < 0.001), and decrease stroke 87% vs. 44% (X = 15.6, P < 0.001), respectively.

Conclusions:

The perceived benefit of AFA by patients and physicians is not supported by the medical literature. It is the responsibility of the electrophysiology community to educate patients and referring physicians regarding the true benefits of AFA. In addition, our study displays the great need for long-term clinical trials examining the impact AFA has on morbidity and mortality.

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