Atrial fibrillation patients treated with Biosense Webster’s NaviStar ThermoCool catheter have reduced symptoms and improved the quality of life compared to patients treated with anti-arrhythmia drugs, a study has found.

The catheter is used to perform cardiac ablation, a process which sees energy delivered to the heart muscle causing abnormal heart rhythm to render it inactive.

The results, reported in Circulation Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, showed that 66% of the patients treated with catheter ablation remained free from documented asymptomatic atrial fibrillation after one year, compared to 16% of the patients treated with anti-arrhythmia drugs.

A sub-study analysis after one year showed that quality of life scores, returned to population norms in patients treated with catheter ablation, but did not change for those treated with drugs.

In addition, patients treated with catheter ablation exhibited a decrease in symptom frequency and severity scores by more than 50%, while there was no change in the drug group.

Matthew Reynolds, primary investigator for the sub-study, said the results add to a growing body of literature demonstrating that catheter ablation improves quality of life more than anti-arrhythmic drugs in appropriately selected patients.