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

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