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Original research
Sex-based differences in atrial fibrillation ablation adverse events


Objective Older, relatively small studies identified female sex as a risk factor for adverse events after catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF). We aimed to assess contemporary sex-based differences in baseline and procedural characteristics, adverse events, and quality of life among adults undergoing catheter ablation for AF.

Methods In this observational cohort study, we evaluated those enrolled in the National Cardiovascular Data Registry AFib Ablation Registry between January 2016 and September 2020. Using logistic regression, we analysed the association between patient sex and in-hospital adverse events.

Results Among 58 960 adults (34.6% women) from 150 centres undergoing AF ablation by 706 physicians, women were older (68 vs 64 years, p<0.001), had more comorbidities, and had lower AF-related quality of life at the time of ablation (mean Atrial Fibrillation Effect on QualiTy-of-life Questionnaire) score: 51.8 vs 62.2, p<0.001). Women had a higher risk of hospitalisation >1 day (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.41 (95% CI 1.33 to 1.49)), major adverse event (aOR 1.60 (95% CI 1.33 to 1.92)) and any adverse event (aOR 1.57 (95% CI 1.41 to 1.75)). Women had a higher risk of bradycardia requiring pacemaker, phrenic nerve damage, pericardial effusion, bleeding and vascular injury, but had no differences in death or acute pulmonary vein isolation.

Conclusions Among almost 60 000 patients in the largest prospective registry of AF ablation procedures, female sex was independently associated with a higher risk of hospitalisation >1 day, adverse events, and reduced quality of life, although there were no differences in death or acute pulmonary vein isolation.

  • atrial fibrillation
  • ablation techniques
  • epidemiology
  • quality of health care

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. All data analysed in this study derive from the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR AFib Ablation Registry.

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