Rate or rhythm control for atrial fibrillation: Update and controversies

Jason S. Chinitz, Jonathan L. Halperin, Vivek Y. Reddy, Valentin Fuster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Atrial fibrillation is associated with increased mortality and considerable morbidity, including stroke, heart failure, and diminished quality of life. Despite these adverse outcomes, rhythm control has not demonstrated benefit in clinical trials. Antiarrhythmic medications, including recently developed agents, have limited efficacy in achieving durable sinus rhythm and substantial toxicity. A rate-control strategy is therefore more attractive for minimally symptomatic patients, but younger and more symptomatic patients may benefit from restoration of sinus rhythm. Catheter ablation is more effective than medications in preventing arrhythmia recurrence, avoids adverse effects associated with antiarrhythmic drugs, and should be considered early in symptomatic patients when success is likely. However, more definitive data are needed from randomized trials assessing long-term outcomes after ablation, including stroke risk and mortality. Clinical decision tools help select the appropriate management for individual patients. Lenient rate management is easy to achieve and seems reasonably safe for certain patients, although the optimum rate varies with individual comorbidities. Because safer and more effective pharmacologic and interventional therapies are now available, an individualized approach to atrial fibrillation management is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1056
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Ablation
  • Antiarrhythmic drugs
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Rate control
  • Rhythm control


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