Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Epidemiology of Atrial Fibrillation

A nice report from Scotland regarding the epidemiology of atrial fibrillation (AF) is presented in the most recent issue of the journal Heart. What is striking are the statistics regarding the prevelance of atrial fibrillation as people age:
The prevalence of AF was 8.7/1000 and was higher in men (9.4/1000) than in women (7.9/1000). Prevalence increased with age from 0.3/1000 in <45 years to 30.5/1000 in 65–74 years, and more than doubling to 70.7/1000 in >85 years.
And the poor use of warfarin (Coumadin®) in women and the elderly (those at higher risk of stroke):
Our observations confirm the finding of other recent studies from the UK that about 40% of patients receive warfarin, a considerably higher proportion than in earlier reports. Although we do not know what proportion of patients should have been treated with warfarin (because we did not know which of our patients had an indication or contraindication to warfarin), other investigators have estimated that between 40–60% of patients might benefit from anticoagulation. Paradoxically, however, warfarin was less likely to be prescribed in women and in older people, both of whom are at greater risk of stroke. This has been a repeated finding in both older and more recent studies, and suggests that there is still an educational deficit in these respects.
If you have atrial fibrillation, this study lets you know you're not alone.


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