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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Surgical intervention superior to drugs in patients with atrial fibrillation

Health Industry Hub | September 29, 2023 |

A study conducted by the Royal Melbourne Hospital has uncovered a significant advancement in the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF). Patients grappling with this heart condition demonstrated enhanced mental wellbeing when treated with catheter ablation, a surgical technique, in comparison to traditional drug therapy.

Professor Jon Kalman AO, the Director of Heart Rhythm Services at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, shed light on the substantial mental health toll endured by up to one third of AF patients, who often grapple with severe issues such as depression and anxiety. Although catheter ablation has increasingly emerged as a superior treatment for the physical symptoms of AF, its impact on mental health remained uncharted territory.

The study, spearheaded by Professor Kalman, scrutinised whether catheter ablation not only alleviates the physical aspects of AF but also enhances the mental wellbeing of patients, thus contributing to an improved quality of life. The results of this research delivered overwhelmingly positive outcomes.

“It has been shown that physical illness has a major impact on a patient’s mental health, and we’ve demonstrated this in patients with AF,” Professor Kalman said.

“But what we’ve now shown is that catheter ablation helps reduce these impacts to mental health. It helps give patients their life back.”

Professor Kalman added that mental health was often overlooked by doctors and cardiologists.

“The physical symptoms and the mental health symptoms are intricately related,” he said.

“For AF, this has not previously been well-documented and therefore not considered when it comes to treatment.”

Twenty-five percent (25%) of adults over the age of 40 years will develop AF which is associated with stroke and heart failure.

Professor Kalman said the study would inform the latest iteration of the international guidelines for catheter ablation in AF patients – considered the gold standard – which he is currently co-chairing with colleagues from Europe, Asia and North America.

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