SAN FRANCISCO – Adding renal denervation when performing catheter ablation of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in hypertensive patients substantially reduced their arrhythmia recurrence rate during the subsequent year in a multicenter, randomized trial with 302 patients.
The findings established renal denervation (RDN) as a “reasonable” tool to increase the success of atrial fibrillation (AFib) catheter ablation, Jonathan S. Steinberg, MD, said at the annual scientific sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society.
“The RDN procedure seems remarkably safe and seems to be reliably accomplished when an electrophysiologist does it,” said Dr. Steinberg, director of the Arrhythmia Center of the Summit Medical Group in Montclair, N.J. Given the evidence he reported that performing RDN simultaneously with AFib catheter ablation by pulmonary vein isolation significantly improved freedom from arrhythmia recurrence, this approach “is ready for clinical use at institutions that could mount this kind of program,” he declared.
The rate of freedom from arrhythmia recurrence while off antiarrhythmic drugs during the year following treatment was 57% among 138 patients treated with pulmonary vein isolation only, and 72% in 145 who underwent both pulmonary vein isolation and renal denervation. That’s “a pretty big difference in outcome” with no increased risk and with about 20 added minutes of procedure time, Dr. Steinberg said in a video interview. He acknowledged that, currently, no catheter is approved for U.S. marketing that is specifically designed for renal denervation, but the operators in the study he reported all used conventional radiofrequency ablation catheters with an irrigated tip, a design with U.S. availability.
The ERADICATE-AF (Renal Artery Denervation in Addition to Catheter Ablation to Eliminate Atrial Fibrillation) study randomized 302 patients with paroxysmal AFib and hypertension uncontrolled by medication at three centers in Russia, one in Germany, and one in Poland. Enrolled patients averaged about 60 years of age, about 60% were men, and their average blood pressure was roughly 150/90 mm Hg while on treatment with a median of two antihypertensive drugs, including 100% on either an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker. The study operators performed RDN by placing an average of six lesions in a spiral pattern in each of the patient’s two renal arteries.
The investigators screened for arrhythmia recurrence with 7-day Holter monitoring at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, with full 12-month follow-up available for 283 patients. After 12 months, blood pressures had declined by an average of 16/11 mm Hg among the patients who underwent RDN, with essentially no change in the patients who had pulmonary vein isolation only. Dr. Steinberg attributed the high success of the renal denervation procedures to the familiarity of the participating electrophysiologist operators with catheter-tip ablations.
“We have gone from treating patients with resistant hypertension to now treating patients with less severe hypertension,” Dr. Steinberg noted, and the next study he is planning will take this approach into patients with paroxysmal AFib but without hypertension, using RDN “solely as an anti-arrhythmic intervention,” he explained.
ERADICATE-AF did not receive commercial funding. Dr. Steinberg has been a consultant to Allergan, AtriCure, Biosense Webster, Corfigo, Medtronic, and Omron. He owns stock in AliveCor and receives salary from National Cardiac and G Medical.