Women Have More Recurrences of Atrial Fibrillation than Men after Thoracoscopic Ablation and Suffer More from Established Risk Factors

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Introduction. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is more prevalent in men than in women. However, women with AF are more symptomatic, have a worse quality of life, a higher stroke risk and may therefore benefit most from ablation. In this study we aim to identify the risk of recurrent AF after thoracoscopic ablation, and assess the differential impact of the risk factors for recurrence between women and men. Method. This is a single center cohort study, including patients undergoing thoracoscopic ablation for advanced AF between 2008 and 2019. All patients were clinically followed up for two years with quarterly 24 h Holter monitoring and ECGs for the detection of recurrent AF. Left atrial appendage (LAA) tissue was collected for collagen analysis. Results. We included 571 patients, of whom 143 (25%) were women. Women were older than men (63 ± 8.3 y vs. 59 ± 8.5, p < 0.001), but had fewer cardiovascular risk factors, myocardial infarctions (1.4% vs. 6.5%, p = 0.03) and, in particular, vascular disease (7.0% vs. 16.1%, p = 0.01). Women suffered more from AF recurrence, driven by more atrial tachycardias, and sex was an independent risk factor for recurrence (HR1.41 [1.04–1.91], p = 0.028]). The presence of vascular disease was associated with an increased risk for AF recurrence in women, but not in men. In LAA histology, women had more collagen than men, as had patients with persistent compared to paroxysmal AF. Conclusion. Women had 15% more recurrences, driven by more atrial tachycardias, which may be explained by a more fibrotic atrial substrate. What’s new? Women undergoing thoracoscopic AF ablation have a higher risk of recurrent AF, driven by more atrial tachycardias. Among patients with left atrial enlargement or persistent AF, women have worse outcomes than men. Vascular disease was a risk factor for recurrence in women, but not in men. In a histopathologic analysis of the left atrial appendage, women had more collagen than men, as had patients with persistent compared to paroxysmal AF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2650
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • atrial fibrillation
  • risk factors
  • sex differences
  • thoracoscopic AF ablation

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