Dec. 26 (UPI) -- New research has shown that catheter ablation helps patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure more than simple drug therapy alone.
The study, published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine, is an analysis of randomized clinical trials testing each treatment on 775 patients.
Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that catheter ablation helped reduce all-cause mortality and heart failure hospitalizations, and improved function in left ventricular ejection fraction.
Their analysis showed that compared to medication, catheter ablation was associated with reductions in all-cause mortality and heart failure hospitalizations and improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction, quality of life, cardiopulmonary exercise capacity, and 6-minute walk test distance, with no statistically significant increase in serious adverse events.
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation are heart palpitations, reduced ability to exercise, fatigue and weakness.
Catheter ablation is a nonsurgical solution that destroys tissue inside humans that causes irregular heartbeats.
While the study points to the benefits of catheter ablation, the researchers said in a press release that "the benefits and harms of catheter ablation versus drug therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation have not been firmly established."
To that end, more than 7 percent of people in the study who received catheter ablation surgery had "major adverse events" versus 3.8 percent who received standard drug therapy. But the study authors say the long-term benefits of catheter ablation related to all-cause mortality, heart failure hospitalizations and overall clinical outcomes "must be weighed in clinical decision making."