BACKGROUND: Premature atrial complexes from pulmonary veins are the main triggers for atrial fibrillation in the early stages. Thus, pulmonary vein isolation is the cornerstone of catheter ablation for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. However, the success rate remains perfectible.
AIM: To assess whether premature atrial complex characteristics before catheter ablation can predict pulmonary vein isolation success in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
METHODS: We investigated consecutive patients who underwent catheter ablation for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation from January 2013 to April 2017 in two French centres. Patients were included if they were treated with pulmonary vein isolation alone, and had 24-hour Holter electrocardiogram data before catheter ablation available and a follow-up of≥6 months. Catheter ablation success was defined as freedom from any sustained atrial arrhythmia recurrence after a 3-month blanking period following catheter ablation.
RESULTS: One hundred and three patients were included; all had an acute successful pulmonary vein isolation procedure, and 34 (33%) had atrial arrhythmia recurrences during a mean follow-up of 30±15 months (group 1). Patients in group 1 presented a longer history of atrial fibrillation (71.9±65.8 vs. 42.9±48.4 months; P=0.008) compared with those who were "free from arrhythmia" (group 2). Importantly, the daily number of premature atrial complexes before catheter ablation was significantly lower in group 1 (498±1413 vs. 1493±3366 in group 2; P=0.028). A daily premature atrial complex cut-off number of<670 predicted recurrences after pulmonary vein isolation (41.1% vs. 13.3%; sensitivity 88.2%; specificity 37.7%; area under the curve 0.635; P=0.017), and was the only independent predictive criterion in the multivariable analysis (4-fold increased risk).
CONCLUSION: Preprocedural premature atrial complex analysis on 24-hour Holter electrocardiogram in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation may improve patient selection for pulmonary vein isolation.