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Aims: Patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) experience 50% recurrence despite pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), and no consensus is established for secondary treatments. The aim of our i-STRATIFICATION study is to provide evidence for stratifying patients with AF recurrence after PVI to optimal pharmacological and ablation therapies, through in silico trials. Methods and results: A cohort of 800 virtual patients, with variability in atrial anatomy, electrophysiology, and tissue structure (low-voltage areas, LVAs), was developed and validated against clinical data from ionic currents to electrocardiogram. Virtual patients presenting AF post-PVI underwent 12 secondary treatments. Sustained AF developed in 522 virtual patients after PVI. Second ablation procedures involving left atrial ablation alone showed 55% efficacy, only succeeding in the small right atria (<60 mL). When additional cavo-tricuspid isthmus ablation was considered, Marshall-PLAN sufficed (66% efficacy) for the small left atria (<90 mL). For the bigger left atria, a more aggressive ablation approach was required, such as anterior mitral line (75% efficacy) or posterior wall isolation plus mitral isthmus ablation (77% efficacy). Virtual patients with LVAs greatly benefited from LVA ablation in the left and right atria (100% efficacy). Conversely, in the absence of LVAs, synergistic ablation and pharmacotherapy could terminate AF. In the absence of ablation, the patient’s ionic current substrate modulated the response to antiarrhythmic drugs, being the inward currents critical for optimal stratification to amiodarone or vernakalant. Conclusion: In silico trials identify optimal strategies for AF treatment based on virtual patient characteristics, evidencing the power of human modelling and simulation as a clinical assisting tool.

Original publication




Journal article


EP Europace


Oxford University Press

Publication Date





Atrial fibrillation, Catheter ablation, In silico trials, Pharmacological therapy, Stratification, Virtual patients