Clinically observed discrepancies between electrocardiogram findings and subjective report of symptoms related to atrial fibrillation (AF) often remain unexplained. One could hypothesize that after a technically successful ablation, preoperative panic behavior might affect the report of AF-related symptoms. However, research on comorbid panic behavior in patients with AF is limited.
In this observational prospective cohort study, we investigated psychological characteristics, in particular the prevalence of panic features, among 112 patients with AF and its possible influence on experienced outcome of subsequent ablation treatment.
Twelve percent of the AF patients (n = 12) were pre-operatively characterized by panic features. This group experienced higher levels of distress and more limitations in daily life compared to AF patients without panic features, but was not characterized by higher levels of neuroticism. However, AF-ablation resulted in a similar reduction of experienced limitations in daily functioning and levels of distress in both groups.
Patients with panic features experience more distress and more limitations in daily life from AF, but these complaints are reduced by AF ablation in a similar rate as in patients without panic features. Additional psychological therapy is suggested as a method to further reduce subjective AF disease burden in these patients.
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Knobel, J.C.P.J., Van der Werf, S.P., Van den Berg, F.F. et al. Panic features strongly predict the subjective but not the objective benefit of pulmonary vein isolation. J Interv Card Electrophysiol 56, 191–197 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10840-018-0496-y
- Atrial fibrillation