Epidemiology of Atrial Fibrillation in the 21st Century: Novel Methods and New Insights

Circ Res. 2020 Jun 19;127(1):4-20. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.316340. Epub 2020 Jun 18.


Accompanying the aging of populations worldwide, and increased survival with chronic diseases, the incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) are rising, justifying the term global epidemic. This multifactorial arrhythmia is intertwined with common concomitant cardiovascular diseases, which share classical cardiovascular risk factors. Targeted prevention programs are largely missing. Prevention needs to start at an early age with primordial interventions at the population level. The public health dimension of AF motivates research in modifiable AF risk factors and improved precision in AF prediction and management. In this review, we summarize current knowledge in an attempt to untangle these multifaceted associations from an epidemiological perspective. We discuss disease trends, preventive opportunities offered by underlying risk factors and concomitant disorders, current developments in diagnosis and risk prediction, and prognostic implications of AF and its complications. Finally, we review current technological (eg, eHealth) and methodological (artificial intelligence) advances and their relevance for future prevention and disease management.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; atrial fibrillation; incidence; prevalence; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / prevention & control
  • Cardiometabolic Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Preventive Health Services / methods
  • Preventive Health Services / trends