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Estimating the current and future prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the Australian adult population

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia observed in medical practice. It ranges in severity, from isolated and benign episodes of electrical disturbance to a chronic cardiac condition that results in cardiac remodelling and functional impairment. Typically, AF progresses from paroxysmal to more permanent forms, irrespective of management practices and intervention, leading to a significant and independent risk of thromboembolism, cardiac failure and mortality.1,2 AF also adversely affects patients’ quality of life.3

AF has substantial economic impact, particularly due to AF-attributable stroke, the incidence of which is increasing in parallel with ageing populations as treatment remains suboptimal.

The evolving burden of AF has been influenced by a combination of population ageing, changing patterns of cardiac risk factors and improved survival rates in other, contributory forms of cardiovascular disease.15 As such, reports from high-income countries have demonstrated that AF exerts a major and evolving public health, social and economic burden.

Previously, the overall population prevalence of AF (in all age groups) was reported to be 1.0% to 2.0%.6