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International consensus statement on catheter or surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation published

Treating atrial fibrillation with catheter or surgical ablation is the subject of a new international consensus statement presented at the recent European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) Congress 2024.

Also published in the journal EP Europace, among others, the consensus statement sets out best practice standards and defines a contemporary framework for the selection and preprocedural, procedural and postprocedural management of patients considered for, or undergoing, catheter or surgical atrial fibrillation ablation.

It outlines atrial fibrillation pathophysiology, anatomical considerations, evaluation and management of complications, training, and institutional requirements for atrial fibrillation ablation.

And it also highlights the importance of active and healthy lifestyles in reducing the risk of developing atrial fibrillation and to lower the number of recurrences.

The consensus statement was developed by the EHRA, a branch of the European Society of Cardiology which chaired the process; the Heart Rhythm Society; the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society; and the Latin American Heart Rhythm Society.

Lead author Dr Stylianos Tzeis, head of cardiology clinic and electrophysiology and pacing department at the Mitera Hospital in Athens, Greece, noted that technological innovations have made catheter ablation safer and more effective than ever before, with pulsed field ablation and intracardiac echocardiography revolutionising the procedure.

He said: ‘Ablation is the most effective way to prevent recurrences of atrial fibrillation and delay progression to more advanced forms. Pioneering techniques have emerged since the previous consensus in 2017, requiring new advice on who should receive this procedure and how to perform it in the safest and most effective manner.’

The consensus statement emphasises that it ‘is not intended as a guideline’ but ‘aims to document the current expert consensus in the dedicated narrow field of catheter and surgical AF ablation’.

It adds: ‘Healthcare professionals should refer to the latest guidelines for overall structured management of [atrial fibrillation] patients.’