WEDNESDAY, Nov. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Cryoballoon ablation is superior to drug therapy as an initial treatment for the prevention of atrial arrhythmia recurrence in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2020, held virtually from Nov. 13 to 17.

Oussama M. Wazni, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues assessed the safety and efficacy of cryoballoon ablation as initial first-line therapy for patients with symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The analysis included treatment-naïve patients who were randomly assigned to either treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs (99 individuals) or pulmonary vein isolation with a cryoballoon (104 individuals).

The researchers report that in the ablation group, 97 percent of patients achieved initial success with the procedure. At 12 months, the percentage of patients with treatment success was 74.6 percent in the ablation group versus 45.0 percent in the drug-therapy group. Procedure-related and cryoballoon system-related serious adverse events occurred in 1.9 percent of patients in the ablation group.

“Earlier intervention with ablation may keep patients free from atrial fibrillation longer and prevent the disease from progressing into more persistent atrial fibrillation,” Wazni said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Medtronic, which funded the study.

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