IMR Press / RCM / Volume 25 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.31083/j.rcm2502071
Open Access Systematic Review
Quality of Life and Safety Outcomes after First-Line Treatment of Symptomatic AF with Cryoablation or Drug Therapy: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
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1 Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, 410008 Changsha, Hunan, China
*Correspondence: (Chengming Fan)
Rev. Cardiovasc. Med. 2024, 25(2), 71;
Submitted: 14 July 2023 | Revised: 21 September 2023 | Accepted: 7 October 2023 | Published: 20 February 2024
Copyright: © 2024 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Background: Cryoablation has emerged as a recognized interventional strategy for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF). Numerous trials have investigated cryoablation as a first-line therapy for AF. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the impact of cryoablation on quality of life (QoL) and safety outcomes compared to antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) in patients with symptomatic AF. Methods: A comprehensive search of the PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases was conducted for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing cryoablation and AADs as first-line treatments for AF until May 2023. Continuous outcome data were analyzed using mean differences (MDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and dichotomous outcome data were analyzed using relative risks (RRs) with 95% CIs. The primary outcomes assessed were QoL and serious adverse events. Results: Our analysis included four RCTs involving 928 patients. Cryoablation was associated with a significant improvement in the AF Effect on Quality of Life (AFEQT) score (3 trials; MD 7.46, 95% CI 2.50 to 12.42; p = 0.003; I2 = 79%) and EQ-VAS score (2 trials; MD 1.49, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.86; p < 0.001; I2 = 0%) compared to AAD therapy. Additionally, cryoablation demonstrated a modest increase in EQ-5D score from baseline compared to AAD therapy, with no statistically significance (2 trials; MD 0.03, 95% CI –0.01 to 0.07; p = 0.07; I2 = 79%). Furthermore, the rate of serious adverse events was significantly lower with cryoablation compared to AAD therapy (4 trials; 11.8% vs. 16.3%; RR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54–1.00; p = 0.05; I2 = 0%). Cryoablation was also associated with a reduction in overall adverse events, incidence of persistent AF, hospitalizations, and additional ablation. However, there was no significant difference in major adverse cardiovascular events and emergency department visits between the two treatment groups. Conclusions: Cryoablation, as a first-line treatment for symptomatic AF patients, significantly improved AF-specific quality of life and reduced serious adverse events, as well as overall adverse events, persistent AF, hospitalizations, and additional ablation compared to AADs.

atrial fibrillation
anti-arrhythmic drug
quality of life
first-line treatment
Fig. 1.
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