Atrial fibrillation (AF) may be clinically silent and therefore undiagnosed. To date, no estimates of the direct medical cost of undiagnosed AF exist. We estimated the United States (US) incremental cost burden of undiagnosed nonvalvular AF nationally using administrative claims data. To calculate the incremental costs of undiagnosed AF, we compared annual medical costs (in 2014 US Dollars) for patients with AF compared to propensity-matched controls and multiplied this by estimates of undiagnosed AF prevalence derived from the same data sources. The study population included US residents aged ≥18 years with 24 months of continuous enrollment drawn from 2 large administrative claims databases. Mean per capita medical spending for patients with AF aged from 18 to 64 year was $38,861 (95% confidence interval [CI] $35,781 to $41,950) compared to $28,506 (95% CI $28,409 to $28,603) for similar patients without AF (incremental cost difference $10,355, p <0.001); total spending for patients aged ≥65 years with AF was $25,322 (95% CI $25,049 to $25,595) compared to $21,706 (95% CI $21,563 to $21,849) for similar patients without AF (incremental cost difference $3,616, p <0.001). Using estimates of the US prevalence of undiagnosed AF (596,000) drawn from the same data, we estimated that the US incremental cost burden of undiagnosed nonvalvular AF is $3.1 billion (95% CI $2.7 to $3.7 billion). In conclusion, the direct medical costs for patients with undiagnosed AF are greater than patients with similar observable characteristics without AF and strategies to identify and treat patients with undiagnosed AF could lead to sizable reductions in stroke sequelae and associated costs.
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