Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF) are epidemic cardiac diseases and are often detected in the same patient. Recent evidence suggests that this is not a mere coincidence but that the strategy of AF treatment may impact HF development. This review comprehensively summarizes current trial data on rhythm and rate control strategies in atrial fibrillation with a special focus on catheter ablation of AF in HF patients. For a long time, rate and rhythm control strategies for AF have been regarded as equal regarding long term mortality. Decision making has been based on the symptoms of patients. Current trials, however, show that the treatment strategy of AF and its effectiveness may significantly impact survival of HF patients. The benefits of rhythm control in HF patients may have been masked by side effects of antiarrhythmic drugs. If rhythm control, however, is achieved by catheter ablation, a reduction of HF related mortality can be observed. As catheter ablation of AF may reduce mortality in HF patients, AF ablation should be preferred over medical treatment in HF patients. In general, HF patients may profit most from rigorous AF treatment.
Clin Cardiol. 16 January, 2019. Epub ahead of print.