WISMAR, GERMANY. It is by now generally accepted that the incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is growing rapidly. A group of researchers from various German universities report that as many as 4.4% of men and 3.9% of women can expect to develop new-onset AF within any given year. Their study involved 8.3 million Germans whose health insurance data (doctor's visits and hospital admissions) were examined for the years 2007 and 2008. Those diagnosed with AF were generally unhealthy with 87% having hypertension, 62% having heart failure or vascular disease, and 43% having diabetes – obviously not lone afibbers! Study participants were considered to have developed new-onset AF in 2008 if
- they were free of AF in 2007;
- they did not receive oral anticoagulation in 2007;
- they had been diagnosed with AF in 2008, either in hospital or during at least two doctor's visits.
The overall prevalence (number of people having AF in 2008) was 176,891 or 2.13% of the entire 8.3 million people involved in the study. Both incidence and prevalence of AF were found to increase sharply with age.