Burden of atrial fibrillation

AF impairs patients’ quality of life and accounts for up to 2% of healthcare budgets; stroke and hospitalisations drive the costs.

AF patients report impaired quality of life (QoL) that is independent of concomitant cardiovascular conditions.5 The impairment in QoL associated with AF can be similar to that in CHF and reflects the symptoms of the disease and complications, such as stroke.35 AF’s impact on QoL may be especially marked in women, younger patients and those with comorbid conditions, such as coronary artery disease, COPD, obstructive sleep apnea or New York Heart Association (NYHA) classes II-IV CHF. Some of these factors could be modified and their presence may indicate that the patient requires a thorough QoL assessment.35

AF also imposes a heavy economic burden. Between 10% and 40% of AF patients are hospitalised annually.5 AF is present in 3–6% of acute medical admissions.20 Most costs associated with AF derive from hospitalisations, management of the associated co-morbidities (notably stroke and CHF) and lost economic productivity.6

A study from Denmark suggested that AF accounted for 1.3–1.7% of total healthcare costs, which were highest during the first year after diagnosis. Costs were higher in AF patients with ischaemic stroke (€89,510 per patient) than in those who did not experience a cerebrovascular event (€30,066 per patient). Hospital admissions represented the largest cost driver (Figure 12). The authors concluded that reducing the need for hospitalisations, especially from stroke, is important to help control costs.36

Total average cost per individual in years 1–3 after a first-time hospital diagnosis of atrial fibrillation

Figure 12. Total average cost per individual in years 1–3 after a first-time hospital diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.36

Now visit the treatment of atrial fibrillation section of the learning zone which covers comorbidities, risk factors and different types of control

Other sections to further your understanding in the disease awareness section include:

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