Prevalence of Non-valvular Atrial Fibrillation Based on Geographical Distribution and Socioeconomic Status in the Entire Korean Population

Korean Circ J. 2018 Jul;48(7):622-634. doi: 10.4070/kcj.2017.0362.


Background and objectives: Prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) varies based on geographical location and socioeconomic status. We aimed to evaluate the prevalence of AF and utilization of antithrombotic therapy based on geographical regions and income levels in the entire Korean population.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of Korean adults (aged ≥20 years) using the 2015 National Health Insurance Service database (n=41,505,679). The study population was stratified into 17 geographical regions and 21 income levels.

Results: We identified 276,842 patients diagnosed with AF. Overall prevalence of AF in suburban/rural regions was significantly higher than that observed in urban regions (0.72% vs. 0.61%, respectively, p<0.001). Elderly patients (age ≥75 years) showed a higher prevalence of AF and comorbidities related to AF development showed a higher prevalence among the population residing in suburban/rural regions. Among AF patients with a CHA₂DS₂-VASc score ≥2, oral anticoagulation (OAC) therapy utilization was lower in the suburban/rural regions than that observed in the urban regions (48.2% vs. 51.8%, respectively, p<0.001). The relationship between income levels and AF prevalence showed a J-shaped curve. The OAC prescription rate showed a positive correlation with income levels. Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants tended to be more commonly prescribed among the higher income groups.

Conclusions: Geographical location of residence and income levels were closely associated with the prevalence of AF and antithrombotic therapy utilization. This information may provide further insights for more effective surveillance of AF and stroke prevention for improved clinical outcomes.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Income; Prevalence; Region; Social class.