AIM: The aim of this prospective substudy was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of treating paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) with radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFA) compared with antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) as first-line treatment.
METHODS AND RESULTS: A decision-analytic Markov model, based on MANTRA-PAF (Medical Antiarrhythmic Treatment or Radiofrequency Ablation in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation) study data, was developed to study long-term effects and costs of RFA compared with AADs as first-line treatment. Positive clinical effects were found in the overall population, a gain of an average 0.06 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) to an incremental cost of €3033, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €50 570/QALY. However, the result of the subgroup analyses showed that RFA was less costly and more effective in younger patients. This implied an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €3434/QALY in ≤50-year-old patients respectively €108 937/QALY in >50-year-old patients.
CONCLUSION: Radiofrequency catheter ablation as first-line treatment is a cost-effective strategy for younger patients with paroxysmal AF. However, the cost-effectiveness of using RFA as first-line therapy in older patients is uncertain, and in most of these AADs should be attempted before RFA (MANTRA-PAF ClinicalTrials.gov number; NCT00133211).