OBJECTIVES: The Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management (AFFIRM) functional status substudy aimed to test the hypothesis that functional status is similar in rate-control and rhythm-control strategies. BACKGROUND: Randomized studies, including the AFFIRM study, have failed to demonstrate survival benefits between rate-control and rhythm-control strategies for atrial fibrillation (AF). However, AF may cause functional capacity or cognitive impairment that might justify maintenance of sinus rhythm. METHODS: Investigators of the AFFIRM study enrolled 4,060 patients with AF who required long-term therapy and who were 65 years of age or older or who had another risk factor for stroke or death. New York Heart Association functional class (NYHA-FC) and Canadian Cardiovascular Society Angina Classification were assessed at initial and each follow-up visit. From 22 randomly chosen functional status substudy sites, 245 participants underwent 6-min walk tests and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at initial, two-month, and yearly visits. Patients were assigned randomly to rate-controlling drugs, allowing AF to persist, or rhythm-controlling antiarrhythmic drugs, to maintain sinus rhythm. RESULTS: The NYHA-FC worsened with time in both rate-control and rhythm-control groups, with no differences between groups. Presence of AF was associated with worse NYHA-FC (p < 0.0001). No differences were observed in Canadian Cardiovascular Society Angina Classification or MMSE scores. Six-minute walk distance improved over time in both study arms. On average, walk distance was 94 feet greater in the rhythm-control group (adjusted p = 0.049). CONCLUSIONS: Modest improvement in 6-min walk distance was noted in the rhythm-control arm. Presence of AF was associated with worse NYHA-FC. No difference in cognitive function was detected.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine