Epidemiology of atrial fibrillation

Hanis Zulkifly, Gregory Lip, Deirdre Lane

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The most common type of arrhythmia in the USA and in European countries is atrial fibrillation (AF). The prevalence of AF is increasing worldwide with advances in technology, better prediction methods and increased awareness among healthcare professionals and patients.


This article summarises the literature on the epidemiology of AF worldwide according to continents, age and ethnicity/race, and also includes the prevalence of AF in stroke patients.ResultsIn Australia, Europe and the USA, the current estimated prevalence of AF is about between 1% and 4%, with lower prevalence evident in Asia (0.49%-1.9%). AF prevalence is highest among Whites. In Western Europe, Australia and North America 70% of people with AF are aged >65 years, whereas the average age of AF patients in other geographical regions is often lower.


Although the prevalence of AF worldwide is increasing steadily, large variation can be seen between studies and countries. Further epidemiological studies should be undertaken globally, especially in Asian and African countries so that a better and more accurate picture of the incidence and prevalence of AF can be captured, to enable stroke prevention strategies to be appropriately implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of stroke, the most severe consequence of AF.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Practice
Early online date1 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2018


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