Drugs or catheter ablation for AF?

It is recommended that anti-arrhythmic drugs are the still the first line treatment for atrial fibrillation. However, a number of randomised clinical trials have shown that ablation is superior to anti-arrhythmic drugs as a first line treatment for paroxysmal AF.

For other arrhythmias such as atrial flutter or SVT, ablation is still not usually offered before trying at least one anti-arrhythmic drug first. This is becauser it is felt that as success rates for paroxysmal AF ablation are not as high as specialists would ideally like and because complication rates associated with catheter ablation are higher than for these more simple arrhythmias, avoiding a procedure in the first instance is probably best. However, whether this changes in the future remains to be seen.

Complications from Catheter Ablation for paroxsymal atrial fibrillation include the following:

An abbreviation for atrial fibrillation Full medical glossary
Any form of disturbance to the heart's normal regular beat Full medical glossary
The two upper chambers of the heart. Full medical glossary
A common abnormal heart rhythm causing a rapid, irregular pulse and failure of the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to pump properly. Abbreviated to AF. Full medical glossary
An abnormally fast but regular heart rhythm due to disturbances in the biological electrical system of the atria of the heart. It is a type of supraventricular tachycardia Full medical glossary
A tube used either to drain fluid from the body or to introduce fluid into the body. Full medical glossary
A condition that is linked to, or is a consequence of, another disease or procedure. Full medical glossary
Abnormally fast and uneven contractions of the heart muscle, so that blood cannot be pumped efficiently Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
Bundle of fibres that carries information in the form of electrical impulses. Full medical glossary
The gullet, the part of the gastrointestinal system that extends down from the mouth cavity to the stomach. Full medical glossary
Narrowing of a tubular structure or valve. Full medical glossary
supraventricular tachycardia Full medical glossary
A blood vessel that carries blood towards the heart. Full medical glossary
ventricular tachycardia Full medical glossary