Family history of atrial fibrillation as a predictor of atrial substrate and arrhythmia recurrence in patients undergoing atrial fibrillation catheter ablation

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Abstract

Aims

A commonly held notion is that patients with a family history of atrial fibrillation (AF) have worse atrial substrate and higher rates of arrhythmia recurrence following ablation. We sought to examine differences in atrial substrate and catheter ablation outcomes in patients with a 1st degree family member with paroxysmal or persistent AF (PeAF) compared to those without.

Methods and results

A total of 256 consecutive patients undergoing their 1st ablation for AF (123 paroxysmal, 133 persistent) with >1 year follow up were included. The presence of one 1st-degree family relative was defined as a ‘positive family history’. Clinical characteristics, electroanatomic map findings, ablation characteristics and outcomes were compared in patients with and without a positive family history of AF. Patients with paroxysmal fibrillation with a positive family history (n = 57; 46%) had similar clinical characteristics and arrhythmia recurrence after catheter ablation as those without. Of those that recurred, patients with a positive family history were more likely to have progressed to PeAF (P = 0.05). Patients with PeAF with a positive family history (n = 75; 56%) had similar clinical characteristics, electroanatomic mapping findings and ablation characteristics, but worse long term arrhythmia free survival (P = 0.04).

Conclusion

The presence of a 1st-degree family member with AF does not impact the clinical outcomes of catheter ablation for paroxysmal AF. However, a positive family history is associated with worse arrhythmia free survival in patients with PeAF. This finding is not explained by differences in clinical characteristics, atrial substrate assessed by voltage maps or ablation characteristics.

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