Sex differences in catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation: results from AXAFA-AFNET 5

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Marielle Kloosterman
  • Hussein R. Al-Khalidi
  • Uli Schotten
  • Jens C Nielsen
  • Jonathan P Piccini,
  • Luigi Di Biase
  • Karl Georg Häusler
  • Derick Todd
  • Lluis Mont
  • Isabelle C Van Gelder

Colleges, School and Institutes



Study sex-differences in efficacy and safety of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation.


Methods and results

We assessed first AF ablation outcomes on continuous anticoagulation in 633 patients [209 (33%) women and 424 (67%) men] in a pre-specified subgroup analysis of the AXAFA-AFNET 5 trial. We compared the primary outcome (death, stroke or transient ischaemic attack, or major bleeding) and secondary outcomes [change in quality of life (QoL) and cognitive function] 3 months after ablation. Women were older (66 vs. 63 years, P < 0.001), more often symptomatic, had lower QoL and a longer history of AF. No sex differences in ablation procedure were found. Women stayed in hospital longer than men (2.1 ± 2.3 vs. 1.6 ± 1.3 days, P = 0.004). The primary outcome occurred in 19 (9.1%) women and 26 (6.1%) men, P = 0.19. Women experienced more bleeding events requiring medical attention (5.7% vs. 2.1%, P = 0.03), while rates of tamponade (1.0% vs. 1.2%) or intracranial haemorrhage (0.5% vs. 0%) did not differ. Improvement in QoL after ablation was similar between the sexes [12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) physical 5.1% and 5.9%, P = 0.26; and SF-12 mental 3.7% and 1.6%, P = 0.17]. At baseline, mild cognitive impairment according to the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was present in 65 (32%) women and 123 (30%) men and declined to 23% for both sexes at end of follow-up.



Women and men experience similar improvement in QoL and MoCA score after AF ablation on continuous anticoagulation. Longer hospital stay, a trend towards more nuisance bleeds, and a lower overall QoL in women were the main differences observed.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbereuaa015
Early online date6 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Mar 2020


  • sex differences, catheter ablation, safety, quality of life, cognitive function