[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Canadian electrophysiology (EP) fellowship programs have evolved in an ad hoc fashion over 30 years. This evolution has occurred in many fields in medicine and is natural when innovators and pioneers attract research fellows who help change the status quo from predominantly research to a predominantly clinical application and focus. Fellows not only push their supervisors and their centres into new areas of inquiry but also function at the most advanced level to encourage and teach junior trainees and to provide examples of excellence to residents, medical students, and other health professionals. Funding for fellows has never been provided in the traditional way through the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Advanced Education. Each Canadian centre has over the years found novel ways to fund fellowship programs, and many centres have used value-adds from procurement programs. These sources of funding are eroding as provincial government agencies are beginning to assume procurement responsibilities and local flexibility to fund fellowships is lost. In particular, provincial government agencies feel that valuable financial resources should be restricted to Canadian trainees only, despite the international consensus that fellowship is an essential time for advanced trainees to travel abroad to acquire a broad a range of experience, learn new techniques and approaches, make lifelong research connections, and hopefully return home with these skills and expertise. This article summarizes the long history of EP fellowship training in Canada, as well as EP fellowship experiences at home and abroad by Canadian electrophysiologists, in an attempt to contextualize these new realities.
The Canadian journal of cardiology 11/2013; 29(11):1527-30. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Substrate and Trigger Ablation for Reduction of Atrial Fibrillation (STAR AF) trial compared 3 strategies for ablation of high-burden paroxysmal/persistent atrial fibrillation (AF): complex fractionated electrogram ablation (CFE), pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), or a combined approach (PVI with CFE). This subanalysis aimed to identify the effect on quality of life (QOL) conferred by ablation strategy, AF recurrence, and type of AF.
The STAR AF study (n = 100) found 88%, 68%, and 38% freedom from AF > 30 seconds at 12 months for PVI with CFE, PVI, and CFE approaches, respectively (P = 0.001). QOL was measured before ablation and at 12 months after ablation using the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scale. Transformed scores were calculated for each of the 8 subscales of the SF-36, and also converted to physical health and mental health component scores.
There was a significant improvement in physical health (24%) and mental health (19%) component scores from baseline to 12 months after ablation (P < 0.05 for both). Significant QOL improvements were seen for all 3 ablation strategies despite differences in outcome. QOL measurements also improved regardless of AF recurrence, except in patients with an AF burden in the highest quartile (median 27.2 hours per month). AF recurrence independently predicted aggregate QOL score.
QOL after AF ablation improves regardless of procedural outcome. QOL scores were only negatively affected in patients with a high symptomatic burden of arrhythmia recurrence suggesting that significant reduction in AF burden can improve QOL without total elimination of AF.
The Canadian journal of cardiology 08/2013; · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND The DISCERN AF study (Discerning Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Episodes Pre and Post Radiofrequency Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation) monitored atrial fibrillation (AF) using an implantable cardiac monitor (ICM) to assess the incidence and predictors of asymptomatic AF before and after catheter ablation. METHODS Patients with symptomatic AF underwent implantation of an ICM with an automated AF detection algorithm 3 months before and 18 months after ablation. Patients kept a standardized diary to record symptoms of arrhythmia, and ICM data were downloaded every 3 months. All episodes were blindly adjudicated and correlated with the diary. Asymptomatic recurrences were ICM episodes of 2 minutes or longer with no associated diary symptoms. RESULTS Fifty patients had 2355 ICM episodes. Of these, 69.0% were true AF/atrial flutter (AFL)/atrial tachycardia (AT); 16.0%, sinus with extrasystoles; 11.0%, artifact; and 4.0%, sinus arrhythmia. Total AF/AFL/AT burden was reduced by 86% from a mean (SD) of 2.0 (0.5) h/d per patient before to 0.3 (0.2) h/d per patient after ablation (P < .001), and 56.0% of all episodes were asymptomatic. The ratio of asymptomatic to symptomatic AF episodes increased after ablation from 1.1 to 3.7 (P = .002). By symptoms alone, 29 of 50 patients (58%) were free of AF/AFL/AT after ablation compared with 23 of 50 (46%) using ICM-detected AF/AFL/AT recurrence. Asymptomatic episodes were more likely AFL/AT and were significantly shorter and slower, with lower heart rate variability. However, the postablation state was the strongest independent predictor of asymptomatic AF. CONCLUSIONS The ratio of asymptomatic to symptomatic AF episodes increased from 1.1 before to 3.7 after ablation. Postablation state is the strongest predictor of asymptomatic AF. Symptoms alone underestimate postablation AF burden, with 12% of patients having asymptomatic recurrences only. TRIAL REGISTRATION clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00745706.
Archives of internal medicine 12/2012; · 11.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Anticoagulation in patients undergoing atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation is crucial to minimize the risk of thromboembolic complications. There are broad ranges of approaches to anticoagulation management pre and post AF ablation procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine the anticoagulation strategies currently in use in patients peri- and post AF ablation in Canada. METHODS: A Web-based national survey of electrophysiologists performing AF ablation in Canada collected data regarding anticoagulation practice prior to ablation, periprocedural bridging, and duration of postablation anticoagulation. RESULTS: The survey was completed by 36 (97%) of the 37 electrophysiologists performing AF ablation across Canada. Prior to AF ablation, 58% of electrophysiologists started anticoagulation for patients with paroxysmal AF CHADS(2) scores of 0 to 1, 92% for paroxysmal AF CHADS(2) scores ≥ 2, 83% for persistent AF CHADS(2) scores of 0 to 1, and 97% for persistent AF CHADS(2) scores ≥ 2. For patients with CHADS(2) 0 to 1, warfarin was continued for at least 3 months by most physicians (89% for paroxysmal and 94% for persistent AF). For patients with CHADS(2) ≥ 2 and with no recurrence of AF at 1 year post ablation, 89% of physicians continued warfarin. CONCLUSIONS: Although guidelines recommend long-term anticoagulation in patients with CHADS(2) ≥ 2, 11% of physicians would discontinue warfarin in patients with no evidence of recurrent AF 1 year post successful ablation. Significant heterogeneity exists regarding periprocedural anticoagulation management in clinical practice. Clinical trial evidence is required to guide optimal periprocedural anticoagulation and therapeutic decisions regarding long-term anticoagulation after an apparently successful catheter ablation for AF.
The Canadian journal of cardiology 07/2012; · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early Recurrence in STAR-AF. Background: Early recurrences of atrial tachyarrhythmias (ERAT) are common after atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation, and predict late recurrences (LR). We sought to determine the impact of different ablation strategies on ERAT and LR. Methods and Results: The STAR-AF trial randomized 100 patients with paroxysmal or persistent AF to ablation of complex fractionated electrograms (CFAE) alone, pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) alone, or combined PVI + CFAE. Patients were followed for 12 months. ERAT was defined as any recurrence of AF, atrial tachycardia, or flutter (AT/AFL) >30 seconds during the first 3 months of follow-up. LR was defined as any recurrence of AF/AT/AFL >30 seconds 3-12 months post. Forty-nine patients experienced ERAT. The index ablation strategy was the only independent predictor of ERAT on multivariate analysis (HR 2.24 PVI vs PVI + CFAE; and HR 2.65 CFAE vs PVI + CFAE). Fifty-two patients experienced LR. The presence of ERAT (HR 3.23), the use of antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) in the first 3 months postablation (HR 2.85), and the index ablation strategy were independently associated with LR (HR 3.42 PVI vs PVI + CFAE; HR 4.72 CFAE vs PVI + CFAE). Thirty-five of 49 (71%) patients with ERAT and 17 (33%) of 51 patients without ERAT had LR (P < 0.0001). Among patients with ERAT, increased left atrium size (HR 1.08), the use of AAD in the first 3 months postablation (HR 2.86) and the index ablation strategy were independently associated with LR (HR 4.77 PVI vs PVI + CFAE; HR 4.45 CFAE vs PVI + CFAE). Conclusion: ERAT is common following AF ablation and is strongly associated with LR. Although CFAE ablation alone results in higher rates of early and LR, the addition of CFAE to PVI results in increased long-term success without an increase in ERAT. (J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol, Vol. pp. 1-7).
Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology 06/2012; · 3.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pulmonary vein (PV) isolation (PVI) has emerged as an effective therapy for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). However, AF recurs in up to 50% of patients, generally because of recovery of PV conduction. Adenosine given during the initial procedure may reveal dormant PV conduction, thereby identifying the need for additional ablation, leading to improved outcomes. The Adenosine Following Pulmonary Vein Isolation to Target Dormant Conduction Elimination (ADVICE) study is a prospective multicentre randomized trial assessing the impact of adenosine-guided PVI in preventing AF recurrences.
Patients undergoing a first PVI procedure for paroxysmal AF will be recruited. After standard PVI is completed, all patients will receive intravenous adenosine in an attempt to unmask dormant conduction. If dormant conduction is elicited, patients will be randomized to no further ablation (control group) or additional adenosine-guided ablation until dormant conduction is abolished. If no dormant conduction is revealed, randomly selected patients will be followed in a registry. The primary outcome is time to first documented symptomatic AF recurrence. Assuming that dormant conduction is present in 50% of patients post PVI and symptomatic AF recurs in 45% of controls, 244 patients with dormant conduction will be required to obtain > 90% power to detect a difference of 20%. Thus, a total of 488 patients will be enrolled and followed for 12 months.
The ADVICE trial will assess whether a PVI strategy incorporating elimination of dormant conduction unmasked by intravenous adenosine will decrease the rate of recurrent symptomatic AF compared with standard PVI.
The Canadian journal of cardiology 01/2012; 28(2):184-90. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This multicentre, randomized trial compared three strategies of AF ablation: ablation of complex fractionated electrograms (CFE) alone, pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) alone, and combined PVI + CFE ablation, using standardized automated mapping software.
Patients with drug-refractory, high-burden paroxysmal (episodes >6 h, >4 in 6 months) or persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) were enrolled at eight centres. Patients (n = 100) were randomized to one of three arms. For CFE alone (n = 34), spontaneous/induced AF was mapped using validated, automated CFE software and all sites <120 ms were ablated until AF termination/non-inducibility. For PVI (n = 32), all four PV antra were isolated and confirmed using a circular catheter. For PVI + CFE (n = 34), all four PV antra were isolated, followed by AF induction and ablation of all CFE sites until AF termination/non-inducibility. Patients were followed at 3, 6, and 12 months with a visit, ECG, 48 h Holter. Atrial fibrillation symptoms were confirmed by loop recording. Repeat procedures were allowed within the first 6 months. The primary endpoint was freedom from AF >30 s at 1 year. Patients (age 57 +/- 10 years, LA size 42 +/- 6 mm) were 35% persistent AF. In CFE, ablation terminated AF in 68%. Only 0.4 PVs per patient were isolated as a result of CFE. In PVI, 94% had all four PVs successfully isolated. In PVI + CFE, 94% had all four PVs isolated, 76% had inducible AF with additional CFE ablation, with 73% termination of AF. There were significantly more repeat procedures in the CFE arm (47%) vs. PVI (31%) or PVI + CFE (15%) (P = 0.01). After one procedure, PVI + CFE had a significantly higher freedom from AF (74%) compared with PVI (48%) and CFE (29%) (P = 0.004). After two procedures, PVI + CFE still had the highest success (88%) compared with PVI (68%) and CFE (38%) (P = 0.001). Ninety-six percent of these patients were off anti-arrhythmics. Complications were two tamponades, no PV stenosis, and no mortality.
In high-burden paroxysmal/persistent AF, PVI + CFE has the highest freedom from AF vs. PVI or CFE alone after one or two procedures. Complex fractionated electrogram alone has the lowest one and two procedure success rates with a higher incidence of repeat procedures. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier number NCT00367757.
European Heart Journal 03/2010; 31(11):1344-56. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is often triggered by ectopic foci originating from pulmonary veins (PVs), with the posterior left atrium (LA) comprising part of the substrate for maintenance. Catheter ablation strategies targeting PVs and the posterior LA may be further refined by incorporating technology beyond standard fluoroscopy.
To prospectively assess the usefulness of a navigation sys-tem to guide a radiofrequency catheter ablation strategy, combining PV isolation (PVI) with anatomical LA ablation.
Sixty-four patients (51 men; mean [+/- SD] age 52+/-8 years) who were referred for catheter ablation of paroxysmal (n=49) or persistent (n=15) AF underwent this ablation strategy using the NavX system (Endocardial Solutions Inc, USA). Electrical PVI was guided by a circular mapping catheter. Anatomical ablation consisted of lines drawn along the posterior aspect of the LA from the superior PVs to the inferior PVs. NavX was used for the construction of three-dimensional LA and PV maps with projection of mapping and ablation catheters on the image in real time and for tracking of lesions during posterior LA ablation.
Electrical PVI was achieved in 100% of procedures and all patients underwent the linear posterior LA ablation described above. Procedural and fluoroscopy times were 188+/-41 min and 60+/-12 min, respectively. Repeat procedures for AF recurrence were required in 38(59%) patients. After a mean follow-up period of 16+/-10 months, 59(92%) patients remained arrhythmia-free, including 52 (81%) without antiarrhythmic drugs.
An AF ablation strategy that combines nonfluoroscopic visualization of catheters with electrical PVI and anatomical LA ablation is feasible, safe and effective, but often requires repeat procedures.
The Canadian journal of cardiology 07/2009; 25(6):e169-72. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cryoablation is increasingly used to treat atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT). It is unknown whether larger electrode-tip cryocatheters improve outcomes without compromising safety.
This study sought to compare acute and long-term success with 4-mm versus 6-mm electrode-tip cryocatheters for AVNRT.
We conducted a 2-group cohort study on 289 patients, age 45.5 +/- 15.9 years (76.8% female), who underwent transcatheter cryoablation as a first-time procedure for AVNRT with 4-mm (N = 152) or 6-mm (N = 137) electrode-tip catheters.
Acute procedural success was achieved in 90.7% (95% confidence interval 86.9% to 93.7%) with no difference between the 2 electrode-tip sizes. A shorter fluoroscopy time (16.1 +/- 11.3 versus 20.3 +/- 14.9 minutes, P = .0096) and trend toward briefer procedural duration (166.6 +/- 49.1 versus 173.5 +/- 53.0 minutes, P = NS) were noted with 6-mm electrode tips. Transient AV block occurred in 5.2%, with complete recovery in 4.4 +/- 2.6 seconds. Over a median follow-up of 155 days, recurrences were less common with 6-mm electrode tips. Actuarial event-free survival rates at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months with 6-mm versus 4-mm electrode-tip cryocatheters were 96.7%, 93.4%, 91.9%, and 88.5% versus 89.9%, 87.0%, 84.1%, and 77.1%, respectively, with no recurrence thereafter (P = .0457). In multivariate analyses adjusting for baseline imbalances and medical therapy postablation, cryoablation with a 4-mm-tip catheter incurred a 2.5-fold increased risk of recurrence (hazard ratio 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.0 to 6.1, P = .0420).
In patients with AVNRT, cryoablation with 6-mm electrode-tip catheters is safe and is associated with fewer recurrences on long-term follow-up compared with 4-mm electrode-tip cryocatheters.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complex fractionated electrograms (CFEs) are continuous electrograms (EGMs) of very short cycle length (CL) representing substrate for atrial fibrillation (AF) perpetuation. Ablation of CFEs may result in AF slowing, termination, and prevention, but identifying them can be subjective.
The purpose of this study was to prospectively assess (1) whether an automated algorithm can identify CFE regions, (2) the acute effects of ablating these regions on AF, and (3) the long-term efficacy as an adjuvant strategy to pulmonary vein antrum isolation (PVAI).
Thirty-five patients (three centers, 61 +/- 9 years, left atrium [LA] 43 +/- 9 mm, ejection fraction 53% +/- 7%) with symptomatic paroxysmal (n = 21) or persistent (n = 14) AF were studied. A decapolar lasso (2-mm spacing) was used for mapping. A three-dimensional shell of the LA and pulmonary veins (PVs) was created. If not already in AF, AF was induced by burst pacing (with or without isoproterenol). Atrial EGMs during AF were mapped/analyzed using an automated CFE algorithm. The algorithm measures the time between discrete deflections in a local EGM over 5 seconds (based on selectable width and peak-to-peak [>0.03 mV] criteria). The mean CL of the local EGM is projected onto the LA shell as a color-coded display. Regions of CL <120 ms (published criteria) were targeted for ablation/elimination. Atrial fibrillation cycle length (AFCL) and regularity were measured from the CS. After CFE ablation, further ablation was done to achieve complete PVAI.
AF was spontaneous (n = 20) or induced (n = 15) in all patients. CFEs were most commonly found along the septum (97%), anterior LA (97%), PV antra (83%), base of appendage (83%), and annulus (71%). CFE ablation alone prolonged the AFCL (171 +/- 27 vs. 304 +/- 41 ms; P = .03) and regularized AF to left/right flutter (AFL) in 74% of patients. CFE ablation terminated AF/AFL in 19 patients (54%)-the other 16 were cardioverted-and AF became noninducible in 77%. CFE ablation alone did not cause PV isolation (0.1 +/- 0.3 PV isolated/patient). After combined CFE and PVAI ablation, the single-procedure, off-drug success rate was 83% (follow-up 13 +/- 4 months) versus 71% in matched controls who had PVAI alone (P = .045).
CFE ablation guided by an automated algorithm resulted in AFCL prolongation, regularization, and noninducibility in most patients. AF terminated in 54% of cases. PVAI with adjuvant CFE ablation has a high efficacy and may be superior to PVAI alone.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Predictors of recurrence following transcatheter cryoablation for atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) are currently unknown. Our objective was to explore predictors of recurrence post-cryoablation for AVNRT, including the impact of procedural endpoints such as complete elimination of slow pathway conduction vs. persistent dual atrioventricular (AV) nodal physiology with or without echo beats.
A single center cohort study was performed on patients undergoing a first cryoablation procedure for AVNRT between May 1999 and December 2004. Cryoablation for AVNRT was attempted in 185 consecutive patients (79.2% female), age 43.1 +/- 15.2 years. Acute success was achieved in 170 (91.9%) patients with 4.4 +/- 3.5 cryoapplications and a total procedural duration of 2.8 +/- 0.8 h. Complete elimination of slow pathway conduction was noted in 47.6% of acutely successful interventions, absence of AV nodal echoes despite dual AV nodal physiology in 8.8%, and presence of echoes but no inducible AVNRT on and off isoproterenol in 43.5%. Actuarial recurrence-free survival following acutely successful cryoablation at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months was 94.8, 93.1, 91.7, 90.8, and 90.8%, respectively. Independent predictors of recurrence were younger age (P = 0.0045) and valvular heart disease (P = 0.0186). The achieved procedural endpoint did not modulate recurrence rates. Eight patients (4.3%) experienced transient third degree AV block; none required permanent pacing.
As a cryoablation procedural outcome for AVNRT, persistent dual AV nodal physiology with or without echo beats is not associated with higher recurrence rates than complete elimination of dual AV nodal physiology if AVNRT remains non-inducible on and off isoproterenol.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) has been shown to improve symptoms of patients with moderate to severe heart failure. Optimal CRT involves biventricular or left ventricular (LV) stimulation alone, atrio-ventricular (AV) delay optimization, and possibly interventricular timing adjustment. Recently, anodal capture of the right ventricle (RV) has been described for patients with CRT-pacemakers. It is unknown whether the same phenomenon exists in CRT systems associated with defibrillators (CRT-ICD). The RV leads used in these systems are different from pacemaker leads: they have a larger diameter and shocking coils, which may affect the occurrence of anodal capture.
We looked for anodal RV capture during LV stimulation in 11 consecutive patients who received a CRT-ICD system with RV leads with a true bipolar design. Fifteen patients who had RV leads with an integrated design were used as controls. Anodal RV and LV thresholds were determined at pulse width (pw) durations of 0.2, 0.5, and 1.0 ms.
RV anodal capture during LV pacing was found in 11/11 patients at some output with true bipolar RV leads versus 0/15 patients with RV leads with an integrated bipolar design. Anodal RV capture threshold was more affected by changes in pw duration than LV capture threshold. In CRT-ICD systems, RV leads with a true bipolar design with the proximal ring also used as the anode for LV pacing are associated with a high incidence of anodal RV capture during LV pacing. This may affect the clinical response to alternative resynchronization methods using single LV stimulation or interventricular delay programming.
Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology 08/2005; 28(7):613-9. · 1.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a case of abnormal right atrial (RA) conduction in a patient with atrial tachycardia (AT) but no history of structural heart disease or cardiac surgery. Following ablation of AT, the patient experienced typical atrial flutter (AFL) and a postcardioversion ECG suggestive of low atrial rhythm. Repeat EPS and three-dimensional electroanatomic activation mapping showed unusual RA activation during SR. This case illustrates the possibility that abnormal intraatrial conduction may lead to unusual patterns of activation in the RA which can serve as a necessary substrate for the initiation and maintenance of macro-reentry circuits.
Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology 07/2005; 28(6):598-601. · 1.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An increase in the prevalence of both atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure is occurring in part because of the demographic shift toward an aging population. These two clinical entities often coexist in the same patient, resulting in the worsening of symptoms and prognosis, rendering their management even more challenging. A large clinical trial is currently examining whether a rhythm-control strategy is superior to a rate-control strategy in patients with congestive heart failure. New nonpharmacologic therapies such as pulmonary vein isolation are undergoing clinical investigation and may also alter the management of these patients. At present, therapy for atrial fibrillation in patients with congestive heart failure should aim first at controlling heart rate to provide symptomatic relief; then sinus rhythm should be restored if symptoms persist or if congestive heart failure worsens. For a more definitive approach in managing these patients, the authors await further clinical trial data.
The American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology 03/2005; 14(2):91-4. · 1.04 Impact Factor