The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is steadily increasing throughout the world because of ageing populations and better management of coronary heart disease. An international literature review was conducted to estimate the prevalence and incidence of atrial fibrillation in France. A review of the literature on comorbidities was also performed. Finally, French mortality and hospitalization data were analysed using the PMSI database. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is estimated to be between 600,000 and 1 million people; of these, two-thirds are aged >75 years. The incidence is estimated at between 110,000 and 230,000 new cases per year. In 2008, 412,000 hospitalized patients had a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation; this figure increased by 26% in the 3-year period between 2005 and 2008. These findings highlight the importance of targeting therapy, of upstream therapy, and of therapy that provides clear clinical and economic advantages over the well-established reductions already achieved in atrial fibrillation morbidity, mortality and cost. In addition, new prevention strategies should be developed, particularly secondary prevention strategies in patients with cardiovascular diseases.
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