Background: The aims of the present study were to define the prevalence of untreated atrial fibrillation (AF) in a systematic screening program using intermittent ECG recordings among 75- to 76-year-old individuals and to study the feasibility of initiating protective oral anticoagulant (OAC) treatment.
Methods and results: Half of the 75- to 76-year-old population in 2 Swedish regions were invited to a screening program for AF. Participants without a previous diagnosis of AF underwent intermittent ECG recordings over 2 weeks. If AF was detected, participants were offered OAC. During the 28-month inclusion period, 13 331 inhabitants were invited. Of these, 7173 (53.8%) participated. Of the participants, 218 (3.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.7-3.5) were found to have previously unknown AF, and of these, AF was found in 37 (0.5% of the screened population) on their first ECG. The use of intermittent ECGs increased new AF detection 4-fold. A previous diagnosis of AF was known in 9.3% (n=666; 95% CI, 8.6-10.0). Total AF prevalence in the screened population was 12.3%. Of participants with known AF, 149 (2.1%; 95% CI, 1.8-2.4) had no OAC treatment. In total, 5.1% (95% CI, 4.6-5.7) of the screened population had untreated AF; screening resulted in initiation of OAC treatment in 3.7% (95% CI, 3.3-4.2) of the screened population. More than 90% of the participants with previously undiagnosed AF accepted initiation of OAC treatment.
Conclusions: Mass screening for AF in a 75- to 76-year-old population identifies a significant proportion of participants with untreated AF. Initiation of stroke prophylactic treatment was highly successful in individuals with newly diagnosed AF.
Clinical trial registration: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT01593553.
Keywords: anticoagulants; atrial fibrillation; mass screening; prevention and control; stroke.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.