Background: There is a paucity of international data on the various types of atrial fibrillation (AF) outside the highly selected populations from randomized trials. This study aimed to describe patient characteristics, risk factors, comorbidities, symptoms, management strategy, and control of different types of AF in real-life practice.
Methods and results: Real-life global survey evaluating patients with atrial fibrillation (RealiseAF) was a contemporary, large-scale, cross-sectional international survey of patients with AF who had ≥1 episode in the past 12 months. Investigators were randomly selected to avoid bias. Among 9816 eligible patients from 831 sites in 26 countries, 2606 (26.5%) had paroxysmal, 2341 (23.8%) had persistent, and 4869 (49.6%) had permanent AF. As AF progressed from paroxysmal to persistent and permanent forms, the prevalence of comorbidities, such as heart failure (32.9%, 44.3%, and 55.6%), coronary artery disease (30.0%, 32.9%, and 34.3%), cerebrovascular disease (11.7%, 10.8%, and 17.6%), and valvular disease (16.7%, 21.2%, and 35.8%), increased, and the prevalence of lone AF decreased. Similarly, there was an increase in mean CHADS(2) [cardiac failure, hypertension, age, diabetes, stroke (doubled)] score (1.7, 1.8, and 2.2), and more than half of patients (51.0%, 56.7%, and 67.3%) qualified for oral anticoagulants. Almost 90% of patients received ≥1 antiarrhythmic drug, but >60% had European Heart Rhythm Association symptom scores from II to IV. Furthermore, 40.7% of persistent and 49.8% of permanent AF patients were still in AF with a heart rate >80 beats per minute.
Conclusions: This survey disclosed high cardiovascular risks and an unmet need in daily practice for patients with any type of AF, especially those with the permanent form.