Biosense Webster has announced the results from its Atrial Fibrillation Progression Trial (ATTEST).

The US-based diagnosis and treatment provider for cardiac arrhythmias said that its ATTEST marks the first randomised controlled trial to directly compare the effectiveness of ablation using radiofrequency (RF) catheters versus standard antiarrhythmic drugs (AAD) in delaying atrial fibrillation (AF) progression.

The company has presented the results at the ESC Congress 2019 held in Paris, France, and the results showed that patients treated with catheter ablation were approximately 10 times less likely to develop persistent AF than patients on AAD at three years after study initiation.

Atrial Fibrillation may cause a deadly form of stroke

AF is a serious medical condition categorised by an irregular and frequent fast heart rhythm that results in uncoordinated contraction of the top two chambers of the heart. The irregular heart rhythm can cause blood clots, leading to a severe form of stroke.

ATTEST lead author Karl-Heinz Kuck said: “Progression from intermittent AF to a persistent form of the condition is very common, and with that progression we see an increased risk of stroke and death. These results are welcome as they suggest that early use of catheter ablation can significantly delay or prevent the progression of AF more effectively than drug therapy”.

Sponsored by Biosense Webster, a part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, the ATTEST is conducted on patients with intermittent AF to treat with either AAD or catheter ablation.

Catheter ablation is an interventional procedure that creates small scars on targeted heart tissue to block abnormal electrical signals that cause arrhythmia.

The study enrolled 128 subjects, randomised to pulmonary vein isolation using radiofrequency (RF) catheters, and 127 subjects to guideline-directed antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy, with the rate of persistent AF/AT at 3 years as the primary endpoint.

The company said that 17.5% of patients from the AAD group developed persistent AF, while only 2.4% of patients from the catheter ablation group experienced disease progression, at the end of the study.