The choice of therapy for patients is dependent on numerous factors including disease state, other co-morbidities and quality of life considerations.
Treatment options include:
- Anti-arrhythmic drugs (AADs) – Medications that either slow the heart rate or revert the heart rhythm back to normal
- Electrical cardioversion – using an electrical current to convert AF to a normal heart rhythm
- Surgical or catheter-based ablation therapies – interventions designed to create lesions in cardiac tissue
- Anticoagulant therapy – substances such as warfarin and dibigitran used to protect patients from stroke
Currently, AADs are considered to be the first-line treatment for AF; however, the failure rate of AAD's is very high (>80%), and they are often poorly tolerated by patients.
Several studies have demonstrated that these disorganized electrical impulses originate from within the pulmonary veins, and as a result interventional procedures remain the primary method for effectively treating a patient with AF. Percutaneous catheter-based procedures result in less operative trauma, pain and scarring than traditional surgical methods, while reducing hospitalization time and healthcare costs.
Current catheter-based procedures are technically challenging, come with a corresponding risk of complication and often require multiple procedures before permanent success can be achieved in a single patient.