The prevalence of atrial fibrillation in a geographically well-defined population in northern Sweden: implications for anticoagulation prophylaxis

J Intern Med. 2012 Aug;272(2):170-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2012.02519.x. Epub 2012 Feb 20.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to evaluate the community-based prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in a western society using a geographically well-defined population in the northern part of Sweden as a reference and to estimate the proportion of patients eligible for oral anticoagulation (OAC) prophylactic therapy according to the stroke risk indices CHADS2 and CHA2 DS2 -VASc. Bleeding risk was assessed using the HAS-BLED score.

Design: The study population was recruited from AURICULA, a Swedish national quality register for patients receiving anticoagulation treatment. All patients with the diagnosis AF in the catchment area are registered in AURICULA.

Results: Of the 65 532 inhabitants in the catchment area, 1616 were diagnosed with AF (1200 cases were characterized as chronic AF). Thus, the overall prevalence of AF was 2.5%. The prevalence increased with age from 6.3% in patients over 55 years of age to 13.8% in those over 80 years. The prevalence was higher in men than in women in all age groups. Overall, 56.3% and 85.1% of the population were at high risk of stroke (≥2 points) according to CHADS2 and CHA2 DS2 -VASc, respectively. In addition, 26.9% had an increased bleeding risk according to HAS-BLED.

Conclusion: Within this large Caucasian population, we identified the highest community-based prevalence of AF to date. The prevalence was strongly associated with increasing age and male gender. Using CHA2 DS2 -VASc instead of CHADS(2) widened the indication for OAC prophylactic therapy of AF in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / drug therapy
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / prevention & control
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Warfarin* / administration & dosage
  • Warfarin* / adverse effects


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin