Radiofrequency catheter ablation and antiarrhythmic drug therapy: A prospective, randomized, 4-year follow-up trial: The APAF study

Carlo Pappone, Gabriele Vicedomini, Giuseppe Augello, Francesco Manguso, Massimo Saviano, Mario Baldi, Andrea Petretta, Luigi Giannelli, Zarko Calovic, Vladimir Guluta, Luigi Tavazzi, Vincenzo Santinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background-Information on comparative outcome between radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFA) and antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) >1 year after randomization is important for clinical decision-making. Methods and Results-A total of 198 patients (age, 56±10 years) with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation were randomly assigned to RFA (99 patients) or to AADs (99 patients). We evaluated efficacy of RFA or AADs in a comparable 48-month follow-up period according to intention-to-treat analysis. Cardiac rhythm was assessed with daily transtelephonic transmissions. Quality of life was also analyzed. At 4 years, among the 99 patients first assigned to RFA, the procedure was repeated because of recurrent atrial fibrillation/atrial tachycardia in 27 patients (27.3%). Among the 99 patients randomly assigned to AADs, 87 (87.9%) crossed over to undergo RFA and 4 years after random assignment only 12 (12.1%) were in sinus rhythm with AAD alone without ablation. Despite the high level of crossovers, at 4 years the intention-to-treat analysis showed that 72.7% of patients in the ablation arm and 56.5% of those initially randomly assigned to AADs were free of recurrent atrial fibrillation/atrial tachycardia (P=0.017). During the follow-up, 19.2% of AAD patients progressed to persistent atrial fibrillation before switching to RFA. RFA significantly improved quality of life (P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-814
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Antiarrhythmic drugs
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Catheter ablation
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)


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