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Atrial fibrillation Eurowide: there’s a lot of it about!

The number of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) in Europe is predicted to be up to17 million by the year 2030, with the number of new cases of AF per year standing at 120,000–215,000, according to a report recently published in Clinical Epidemiology.1

The increasing prevalence of AF is due to our greater ability to treat chronic cardiac and non-cardiac diseases, and the improved ability to suspect and diagnose AF, say the authors. Speaking to BJC Arrhythmia Watch, lead author Dr Massimo Zoni-Berisso (Padre A Micone Hospital, Genoa, Italy) said: “High arterial blood pressure is probably the main risk factor for AF. The systematic educational campaigns of sensitisation performed in the past years have significantly improved its treatment, in particular by GPs. Obesity is another risk factor for AF whose prevalence is increasing significantly in the developed countries and in particular among young people.”

“Unfortunately, the prevention and the treatment of this co-morbidity (obesity) is less-often pursued than hypertension, very likely because of a lack of economic interest by the industries. Renal failure, pulmonary disease and heart valve disease also favour the occurrence of AF. Therefore they must be prevented, diagnosed as soon as possible and treated with appropriate therapy. Since it is difficult to identify such co-morbidities early, greater efforts are needed to detect them through systematic clinical and diagnostic screening” Dr Zoni-Berisso continued.

Dr Massimo Zoni-Berisso (Padre A Micone Hospital, Genoa, Italy)

Dr Massimo Zoni-Berisso (Padre A Micone Hospital, Genoa, Italy)

“The dissemination and the knowledge of guidelines is essential for the proper management of AF. Unfortunately, today there is still a gap between guideline recommendations and ‘real world’ medical practice. Generally, anticoagulation is underused among those patients where anticoagulants are indicated, and in most of these cases the reasons for non-use are not always justified,” he added.

“However, the trend of anticoagulant use is increasing, and at the present time in Europe the percentage of patients with AF who need and receive anticoagulation ranges from 50% to 80%. If we consider that approximately 20% of these patients show a real contraindication, the distance between guideline recommendations and real world clinical practice is not particularly large,” Dr Zoni-Berisso continued.

“The use of the new non-VKA anticoagulants will be the future of the anticoagulation therapy in patients with AF at thromboembolic risk. The only issue is cost,” he concluded.


1. Zoni-Berisso M, Lercari F, Carazza T, Domenicucci S. Epidemiology of atrial fibrillation: European perspective. Clin Epidemiol 2014;6:213–20.

Published on: August 5, 2014

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
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  • Anticoagulation Europe
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