Renal denervation prevents subclinical atrial fibrillation in patients with hypertensive heart disease: Randomized, sham-controlled trial


      Catheter-based renal denervation (RD), in addition to pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), reduces atrial fibrillation (AF) recurrence in hypertensive patients. Whether RD, without additional PVI, can prevent subclinical atrial fibrillation (SAF) in patients with hypertensive heart disease (HHD) is unknown.


      The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of RD in preventing SAF in patients with HHD.


      A single-center, randomized, sham-controlled pilot trial, including patients >55 years in sinus rhythm, but with a high risk of developing SAF was conducted. Patients had uncontrolled hypertension despite taking 3 antihypertensive drugs, including a diuretic. The primary endpoint was the first SAF episode lasting ≥6 minutes recorded via an implantable cardiac monitor scanned every 6 months for 24 months. A blinded independent monitoring committee assessed electrocardiographic rhythm recordings. Change in SAF burden (SAFB), and office and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (BP) at 6-month follow-up were secondary endpoints.


      Eighty patients were randomly assigned to RD (n = 42) or sham groups (n = 38). After 24 months of follow-up, SAF occurred in 8 RD patients (19%) and 15 sham patients (39.5%) (hazard ratio 0.40; 95% confidence interval 0.17–0.96; P = .031). Median [interquartile range] SAFB was low in both groups but was significantly lower in the RD vs sham group (0% [0–0] vs 0% [0–0.3]; P = .043). Fast AF (>100 bpm) occurred less frequently in the RD than sham group (2% vs 26%; P = .002). After adjusting for baseline values, there were no significant differences in office or 24-hour BP changes between treatment groups.


      RD reduced incident SAF events, SAFB, and fast AF in patients with HHD. The observed effects may occur independent of BP lowering.

      Graphical abstract


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