Background: The mortality and morbidity rates of various cardiovascular diseases differ between Western countries and Japan. The age- and gender-specific prevalence rate of atrial fibrillation (AF) in the general population of Japan was determined using the data from periodic health examinations in 2003.
Methods: Data of 630,138 subjects aged 40 years or more (47% were men and 34% were employees of companies and local governments) were collected from northern to southern Japan. The prevalence of diagnosed AF in each 10-year age group of both men and women was determined. Based on these prevalence rates and the Registry of Residents, the number of people having AF in Japan was estimated.
Results: The prevalence rate of AF increased as both male and female subjects aged, and it was 4.4% for men but only 2.2% for women aged 80 years or more (p<0.0001). As a whole, the AF prevalence of men was three times that of women (1.35 versus 0.43%, p<0.0001). There may be approximately 716,000 people (95% confidence interval (CI), 711,000-720,000) with AF in Japan, an overall prevalence of 0.56%. The number of people having AF was projected to be 1.034 (95% CI, 1.029-1.039) million, an overall prevalence of 1.09%, in 2050.
Conclusions: The prevalence of AF increased in Japan as the population aged, as in Western countries. The overall prevalence of AF in Japan is approximately two-thirds of that in the USA. The projected increase in the number of people having AF is modest in Japan in 2050.