Early rhythm control therapy for AF consistent regardless of
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The benefits of early, systematic rhythm control therapy were consistent regardless of whether patients had asymptomatic or symptomatic AF, according to new data from the EAST-AFNET 4 trial.

Clinical practice guidelines restrict rhythm control therapy to patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF). The EAST-AFNET 4 trial demonstrated that early, systematic rhythm control improves clinical outcomes compared to symptom-directed rhythm control.

This prespecified EAST-AFNET 4 analysis compared the effect of early rhythm control therapy in asymptomatic patients (EHRA score I) to symptomatic patients. Primary outcome was a composite of death from cardiovascular causes, stroke, or hospitalization with worsening of heart failure or acute coronary syndrome, analyzed in a time-to-event analysis. At baseline, 801/2633 (30.4%) patients were asymptomatic [mean age 71.3 years, 37.5% women, mean CHA2DS2-VASc score 3.4, 169/801 (21.1%) heart failure]. Asymptomatic patients randomized to early rhythm control (395/801) received similar rhythm control therapies compared to symptomatic patients.

Anticoagulation and treatment of concomitant cardiovascular conditions was not different between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The primary outcome occurred in 79/395 asymptomatic patients randomized to early rhythm control and in 97/406 patients randomized to usual care, almost identical to symptomatic patients. At 24 months follow-up, change in symptom status was not different between randomized groups.

Conclusively, the clinical benefit of early, systematic rhythm control was not different between asymptomatic and symptomatic patients in EAST-AFNET 4. These results call for a shared decision discussing the benefits of rhythm control therapy in all patients with recently diagnosed AF and concomitant cardiovascular conditions.

Source: https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/advance-article/doi/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab593/6358078