Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice. Since only limited data on the Chinese population, which is the largest in the world, is available, we conducted an epidemiological study on the prevalence and risk factors of AF in mainland China.
Methods: This population-based study conducted by cluster sampling comprised 29079 participants forming 14 cohorts from 13 provinces across China, where the population was nearly 1 billion. Every participant underwent electrocardiogram and physical examinations and responded to the interviewer-led questionnaire(s). Univariate and multiple statistical analyses were conducted to explore the relationship between AF prevalence and risk factors.
Results: The age-standardized prevalence of AF in China (>or=30 y) was 0.65%, and it increased with age. Men showed a higher prevalence of AF than women (0.91% [age-standardized, 0.66%] vs. 0.65% [0.63%], P = 0.013); several significant risk factors (age, hyperthyroidism, coronary heart disease, and rheumatic heart disease) were identified for AF in the general population. Stroke prevalence was much higher in AF patients than in non-AF people (12.95% vs. 2.28%, P < 0.001). AF was confirmed to be a significant independent risk factor for stroke prevalence in the studied population (OR = 2.776, [1.814, 4.248], P < 0.001). We found that AF patients received poor treatment (2.7%, warfarin; 39.7%, aspirin).
Discussion: This study conducted on a large sample size demonstrates that AF prevalence in mainland China is slightly lower than that in Western countries and similar to that in Asian areas, and confirms that AF is a serious public health problem in China. We identified several potential risk factors, but their associations with AF still need to be further studied.