Atrial fibrillation (AFib) rates increased significantly from 2006 to 2018, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. The change was especially evident in patients 85 years old and older.
The study’s authors noted that “the community and clinical burdens of AFib” have been on the rise in recent years.
“Multiple explanations have been posited for the AFib increase, including an aging population, prolonged survival of individuals with cardiac conditions that predispose them to AFib, and an increasing prevalence of AFib risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, in the at-risk populations,” wrote lead author Brent A. Williams, PhD, Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, and colleagues. “Moreover, some authors have perceived increased attention being directed to AFib in recent years—commonly attributed to the introduction of new anticoagulants for stroke prevention—that may be increasing the propensity to document AFib clinically, especially as a secondary diagnosis.”
To track this trend more closely, Williams et al. explored electronic medical record data from an entire health system in Pennsylvania. The study covered more than 500,000 patients with no prior documentation of AFib. The mean patient age at baseline was 47 years old, and 54.9% of the patients were women.