Reversal of Atrial Substrate to Prevent Atrial Fibrillation

Rationale: AF is a major health problem, with a prevalence of 0.4-1% of the population. It results in high healthcare costs and significant morbidity, especially for patients with severe symptoms.  Exercise and risk factor modification to prevent and modify AF has garnered a significant amount of support in cohort studies that have proven benefit.  It is well known that age, body mass index, valvular heart disease, heart failure, hypertension and sleep apnea are risk factors for AF, most of which are modifiable if targeted appropriately. In addition, catheter ablation techniques have evolved and improved to reduce AF recurrence in those who are most symptomatic, and either have heart failure, or are at risk for its development. Despite these advances, the recurrence of AF remains high.

Objective: To determine whether early treatment of the arrhythmogenic substrate, with or without aggressive risk factor modification, is most important in prevention of recurrent AF. It is hypothesized that patients with underlying risk factors that promote AF will benefit most from a combined strategy of aggressive risk factor modification in combination with catheter ablation.

Study design: Multicenter randomized trial comparing catheter ablation versus catheter ablation plus aggressive risk factor therapy, followed by maintenance with blinded endpoint evaluation.

Study population: Patients with symptomatic AF and two of the following will be included:  hypertension, BMI≥27, diabetes, prior stroke/TIA, history of heart failure (prior heart failure admission due to AF or LVEF<40%), age≥65.

Intervention: AF ablation within 3 months or AF ablation at 3 months, with a 12 week home-based exercise/risk factor management program, followed by maintenance therapy.  A 5 month treatment period will be observed to deliver the interventions and have a 2 month blanking period post ablation. Guideline-directed therapy for risk factors will occur in all groups, including BP, cholesterol, diabetes, alcohol reduction and sleep apnea screening. All patients will undergo implantation of an implantable loop recorder (ILR) at baseline.

Main study parameters/endpoints: The primary outcome will be a composite of death at any time, AF-related hospitalization/emergency department visits and AF >24 hours (5 months post randomization).  Secondary outcome will include AF burden.

People involved

Principal investigators

Isabelle van Gelder


Michiel Rienstra


International collaborations

  • R. Parkash (Canada)
  • J, Healey (Canada)
  • J.. Sapp (Canada)
  • A. Skanes (Canada)
  • D. Birnie (Canada)
  • J. Reed (Canada)
  • V. Essebag (Canada)
  • S. Wilton (Canada)
  • P. Dorian (Canada)
  • A. Gillis (Canada)
  • L. Rivard (Canada)
  • R. Reid (Canada)
  • C. Blanchard (Canada)
  • N. Giacomantonio (Canada)
  • G. Wells (Canada)

External links