Aims: To describe atrial fibrillation (AF) management in member countries of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and to verify cardiology practices against guidelines.
Methods and results: Among 182 hospitals in 35 countries, 5333 ambulant and hospitalized AF patients were enrolled, in 2003 and 2004. AF was primary or secondary diagnosis, and was confirmed on ECG in the preceding 12 months. Clinical type of AF was reported to be first detected in 978, paroxysmal in 1517, persistent in 1167, and permanent in 1547 patients. Concomitant diseases were present in 90% of all patients, causing risk factors for stroke to be also highly prevalent (86%). As many as 69% of patients were symptomatic at the time of the survey; among asymptomatic patients, 54% were previously experienced symptoms. Oral anticoagulation was prescribed in 67 and 49% of eligible and ineligible patients, respectively. A rhythm control strategy was applied in 67% of currently symptomatic patients and in 44% of patients who never experienced symptoms.
Conclusion: This survey provides a unique snapshot of current AF management in ESC member countries. Discordance between guidelines and practice was found regarding several issues on stroke prevention and antiarrhythmic therapy.