Preventing the Rise of AF-Stroke in Populations: A Call to Action
Atrial fibrillation (AF) occurs in 1-1.5% of populations in developed countries and is independently associated with a 5-fold increase in stroke risk. Up to one-third of patients with first stroke in population studies have AF, with consequent greater neurological impairment, worse disability, increased recurrence risk, and more frequent dementia and requirement for institutional care compared to stroke of other causes1,2.
The prevalence of AF is highly age-dependent, ranging from 0.1% in those aged under 55 years to 9% in those aged 80 or older3. With greater life-expectancy, the absolute numbers of individuals with AF is anticipated to increase substantially in the coming decades, even if current incidence rates remain unchanged. However, data indicate that AF incidence is increasing, leading to projections of an increase in AF prevalence in the USA by at least 2.5-fold by 20503,4. The consequences of this increase in AF prevalence on the frequency of AF-related stroke will depend on the effectiveness of AF detection and implementation of prevention with anticoagulants and other vascular medications and behaviours.
- Received September 8, 2014.
- Accepted September 9, 2014.