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Circulation Journal
Vol. 75 (2011) No. 4 p. 979-985



Controversies in Cardiovascular Medicine

The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) increases with advancing NHYA cardiac functional class, and it significantly affects the cardiac function of a failing heart. In such situations, clinicians should aim to maintain sinus rhythm in these patients with heart failure (HF) in order to improve their prognosis. However, according to various randomized clinical studies demonstrating the non-superiority of rhythm control over rate control, many clinicians seem to prefer to take the line of least resistance (ie, rate control). Curative catheter ablation mainly based on isolation procedure of the pulmonary veins in patients with AF and HF has demonstrated a significant improvement in left ventricular function, even in the presence of adequate ventricular rate control before the ablation. On the other hand, ablation and biventricular pacing therapy, which is an extreme rate control strategy, has not shown any beneficial effects for these patients. Therefore, a regular RR interval with an appropriate cycle length only is not sufficient to improve cardiac performance, and maintenance of sinus rhythm, which restores atrial contraction and the atrioventricular synchrony, is thought to be essential for an improvement in HF. Thoughtful clinicians should do their best to find a way to keep HF patients in sinus rhythm. (Circ J 2011; 75: 979-985)


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