Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, with an estimated prevalence of 2.5% in the general population in England; men are more commonly affected than women.
The risk of developing AF increases dramatically with age, resulting in a prevalence of more than 9% in people over 85 years. A doubling of the prevalence of AF over the next 25 years is predicted in line with population ageing. AF is one of the 10 most common causes of hospital admission in the UK.
The risk of developing AF increases dramatically with age, resulting in a prevalence of more than 9% in people over 85 years.
AF can have devastating consequences – the presence of AF increases the risk of stroke fivefold, with AF-related strokes being associated with a higher mortality and greater disability than non-AF related strokes. All forms of AF carry an increased risk of stroke and the prevention of AF-related stroke is a major element of AF care.
Stroke care represents a significant financial burden to the NHS and social care, with a recent analysis of the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Project (SSNAP) database concluding that the cost of each stroke is £22,429 in the first year and £46,039 over five years. As AF-related strokes carry a higher risk of longer-term disability than non-AF related strokes, the average cost of an AF stroke over 5 years is likely to be higher than reported by SSNAP.