Rate versus rhythm control in patients with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation: Effects of the treatment timing on health status outcomes

Ryo Nakamaru, Nobuhiro Ikemura, John A. Spertus, Takehiro Kimura, Yoshinori Katsumata, Taishi Fujisawa, Koji Ueno, Soushin Inoue, Ikuko Ueda, Keiichi Fukuda, Seiji Takatsuki, Shun Kohsaka

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Recent randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that applying rhythm control during the early stage of atrial fibrillation (AF) may lead to improved clinical outcomes. However, the effects of this modality on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) have not been fully investigated. We aimed to assess the association between the AF stage, determined by the time between AF diagnosis and referral to the cardiology clinic, and HRQoL outcomes. Methods: Using an outpatients-based multicenter AF registry (n = 3,313), we analyzed 2,070 patients with AF diagnosed within 5 years. The patients were divided into 2 groups according to AF stage: early and late AF (AF duration ≤1 and >1 year, respectively). All patients had HRQoL information collected at baseline and 1 year after their initial treatment (assessed via the Atrial Fibrillation Effect on Quality-of-Life-overall summary [AFEQT-OS] score, with higher scores reflecting better HRQoL). The change in AFEQT-OS was adjusted for patient characteristics using a generalized linear mixed model. Results: The early AF group (n = 1,644) was older (early, 68.5 ± 11.1, late, 64.4 ± 10.6 years, P < .001) and had more heart failure (early, 19.9%, late, 12.7%, P < .001) than the late AF group (n = 426). At 1 year after treatment, the adjusted changes in AFEQT-OS were similar in patients with rhythm (adjusted difference [SE], early, 8.4 [1.2], late, 7.2 [1.4], P = .15) or rate (early, 4.0 [0.7], late, 2.3 [1.4], P = .16) control, regardless of AF stage. Furthermore, the improvement in HRQoL was similar between early and late AF in patients undergoing catheter ablation (early, 10.2 [2.1], late, 9.8 [2.4], P = .78), whereas a significant difference was observed in those receiving antiarrhythmic drug therapy alone (early, 10.2 [1.4], late, 3.5 [2.2], P < .001). Conclusions: Rhythm control therapy provided clinically meaningful improvements in HRQoL, regardless of AF stage. For patients with impaired HRQoL, AF duration should not be a deterrent to treatment, especially catheter ablation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican heart journal
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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