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Radiofrequency Ablation Helps After Mitral Valve Surgery

Increases sinus rhythm restoration 10-fold in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation

TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic atrial fibrillation who undergo left atrial radiofrequency ablation (RFA) during mitral valve surgery are nearly 10 times as likely to have sinus rhythm a year later than patients who do not have RFA, according to a report in the Nov. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

George Doukas, FRCSI, of Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, U.K., and colleagues randomly assigned 97 patients with a history of at least six months of continual atrial fibrillation to mitral valve surgery plus RFA, the so-called "maze procedure," or valve surgery alone.

Within one year, 44% of patients receiving RFA had a sinus rhythm compared with only 4.5% of controls. The procedure also correlated with lower plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, a myocardial stretch indicator used to measure efficacy of heart failure therapeutic interventions.

"On the basis of its safety and efficacy, our findings suggest that routine use of left atrial RFA during mitral valve surgery is justified," the authors write. Whether the maze procedure and long-term restoration of sinus rhythm will be of clinical benefit remains to be determined, according to an accompanying editorial.

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