AF Association
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Is AF Increasing?

Do you think that the massive increase in the number of reported AF cases is because:

1. The condition is actually increasing in numbers of people developing AF.


2. Detection and diagnosis has improved meaning more cases are being caught by Drs.

According to most papers being published the number of cases have increased greatly and what used to be called the "Old Person" disease is being diagnosed in a much greater number of young people.

5 Replies

I think doctors are getting better at diagnosing AF Tim. My husband is coeliac and 20 years ago gluten free food was hard to come by, now we can shop and buy gluten free products with no problem, because the numbers of coeliacs have gone up dramatically too. I think the public is far more aware of medical conditions these days (thanks to the internet) and have an expectation that they will be treated and even cured. Many people now are not afraid to go to there GP's to get there medical problem diagnosed and even question their diagnosis! I was persistant with getting a diagnosis, as I knew something was wrong with me, but every time I walked into that surgery I seemed to go back to NSR.

Late set diabetes (type 2) used to be diagnosed in the "Older Person", now it is being diagnosed in people in their 20's and even younger - taking about UK here Tim! The Warfarin Clinic used to be filled with "Older People" when I worked in a London Hospital, now I have to attend myself, I see many younger people with AF, it is a good chance for us to have a chat about it and who has gone the longest without an attack! Wendy


I think AF is absolutely increasing because, though it can be a condition at any age, the older you are, the more likely you are to develop AF, and our (U.S.) population is aging. There is an increase of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, here in this country as well, and all are predisposing factors along with other heart and lung disease.

I still think it is difficult to get an accurate diagnosis quickly in some places. I think if you live near a major medical center you probably get diagnosed and treated faster than if you live in a rural area and it may take a while to get to the specialist that you need to do all the testing.


There is no doubt that AF diagnosis has improved in UK at least over that last few years. Many doctors and cardiologists used to consider AF a benign nuisance but since 2007 when the link with stroke became more established a lot more notice is taken. A lot of us still campaign for better diagnosis and it is improving but there are still probably many asymptomatic people out there at stroke risk because doctors tend to rely on automated blood pressure machines and don't do the old traditional pulse check. In 2010 the European Cardiology Society produced a protocol for the treatment of AF but getting that established into general practise is quite another thing. In the meantime there are perhaps up to another 1/4 million undiagnosed patients out there if projections are true.


A very interesting discussion and it's encouraging to see you are all so well informed about AF. There are no definitive figures of how many people are diagnosed or undiagnosed with AF, which is testament to the condition not getting the international priority it deserves, considering it is the most common heart rhythm disorder in the world.

It's estimated that around 1.5million people in the UK are diagnosed with AF, and another 40-50% are undiagnosed.


I just had another thought and that is about the increase in the number of training and gym addicts these days. I know of quite a few younger people with AF and a common thread is that they all train hard and long. One might even say it was an addiction. It is known that endurance training can increase the size of the left atria and this can lead to the rogue impulses which cause AF to establish. Another group who seem to develop AF at younger ages I am told is fast jet pilots presumably due to the hard work their heart has to do combating G forces. So while one reason for increases in the number of AF patients may well be the ageing population there also seems to be an increase amongst younger people.


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