Quality of life after the initial treatment of atrial fibrillation with cryoablation versus drug therapy

Published:October 15, 2021DOI:


      The STOP AF First trial recently demonstrated that initial treatment with cryoballoon ablation (CBA) is safe and superior to antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy for preventing atrial arrhythmia recurrence in patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF).


      The purpose of this study was to evaluate the change in quality of life (QoL) and symptoms after first-line CBA vs AAD therapy.


      Patients with symptomatic AF not previously receiving rhythm control therapy were randomized to AAD (class I or III) or CBA (Arctic Front Advance, Medtronic, Mounds View, MN). QoL was evaluated at baseline and at 6 and 12 months by using the Atrial Fibrillation Effect on QualiTy-of-Life (AFEQT) and the European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions questionnaires. A review of AF-associated symptoms was conducted at baseline and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.


      In total, 203 subjects received either CBA (n = 104 [51.2%]) or AAD therapy (n = 99 [48.8%]). Improvements in the AFEQT summary and subscale scores were significantly larger with CBA than with AAD therapy at 6 and 12 months (P < .02 for all). Clinically meaningful improvement (>5 points) in the AFEQT summary score from baseline to 12 months was observed in 96.0% (100) of patients in the CBA arm vs 72.2% (71) of patients in the AAD arm (P < .001). No significant between-group differences were observed in the change in the European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions index or visual analog scale scores. Overall, 54.4% (57) of the CBA group vs 29.7% (29) of the AAD group reported no AF-specific symptom recurrence after a 90-day blanking period (P = .0005).


      First-line CBA vs AAD therapy is associated with larger improvements in AF-specific QoL and a higher rate of symptom resolution.

      Graphical abstract


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