Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important public health problem in European countries. AF is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, e.g. from heart failure and thromboembolic events. Little data have previously been presented regarding the costs of treatment in patients with AF.
Objective: To estimate total direct and indirect costs in patients with AF in Sweden and Germany, and to identify determinants of total costs.
Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted through surveys to patients and their treating physician in primary care and in hospital outpatient cardiology departments in Sweden and Germany. A total of 922 patients with AF as diagnosed in clinical practice were enrolled and completed the study. Data were collected on medical history, treatment, medical and non-medical resource use, and employment status. Costs (year 2005 values) were calculated by multiplying resources used with prices specific for Sweden and Germany, respectively.
Results: Total annual costs per patient were €7241 in Sweden and €5586 in Germany. Slightly less than 70% of total costs were judged as being AF related in both countries. Costs of AF-related medication were about 2% of total costs in both countries. In a generalized regression model, costs were found to increase with age, but were lower in patients aged>65 years than in those aged<or=65 years, due to the absence of indirect costs in older patients. Costs were highest in patients with persistent AF and lowest in those with permanent AF. Co-morbidities with a significant influence on costs included coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart failure and asthma.
Conclusions: Current costs in AF patients are driven by the consequences of AF, while costs for specific treatments for AF are low. The addition of new, effective and safe treatment options could potentially reduce overall healthcare costs in AF.