Introduction and objectives: Atrial fibrillation is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality and both its incidence and prevalence are high. Nevertheless, comprehensive data on this condition in Spain are lacking. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in Spain.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in the general Spanish population older than 40 years. Two-stage random sampling was used, in which first-stage units were primary care physicians randomly selected in every Spanish province and second-stage units were 20 randomly selected persons drawn from each participating physician's assigned population. The reported prevalence was standardized for the age and sex distribution of the Spanish population. The electrocardiogram recordings were read centrally.
Results: Overall, 8343 individuals were evaluated. The mean age was 59.2 years (95% confidence interval, 58.6-59.8 years), and 52.4% of the participants were female. The overall age-adjusted prevalence of atrial fibrillation was 4.4% (95% confidence interval, 3.8-5.1). Prevalence was similar in both sexes, men 4.4% (3.6-5.2) and women 4.5% (3.6-5.3), rising with increasing age older than 60 years. In patients older than 80 years, the prevalence was 17.7% (14.1-21.3). In 10% of patients an unknown atrial fibrillation was diagnosed.
Conclusions: The prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the general Spanish population older than 40 years is high, at 4.4%. The prevalence is similar in both sexes and rises steeply above 60 years of age. It is estimated that there are over 1 million patients with atrial fibrillation in the Spanish population, of whom over 90,000 are undiagnosed.
Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Epidemiology; Epidemiología; Fibrilación auricular; Prevalence; Prevalencia.
Copyright © 2013 Sociedad Española de Cardiología. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.