Objective To determine whether the incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is static or rising in the UK.
Design Among the cohort of all individuals aged ≥45 years in the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) (linked to hospital discharges) we identified incident non-valvular AF cases between 2001 and 2013. Overall and annual AF incidence rates were calculated and standardised to the UK population.
Results The cohort of 2.23 million individuals included 91 707 patients with incident AF. The overall standardised AF incidence rate was 6.7 (95% CI 6.7 to 6.8) per 1000 person-years, increasing exponentially with age and higher in men of all ages. There was a small increase in the standardised incidence of AF in the last decade from 5.9 (5.8 to 6.1)/1000 person-years in 2001 to 6.9 (6.8 to 7.1)/1000 person-years in 2013, mostly attributable to subjects aged >80 years with a non-primary hospital discharge diagnosis of AF. Standardised incidence rates of AF among white patients was 8.1 (8.1 to 8.2)/1000 person-years, compared with 5.4 (4.6 to 6.3) for Asians and 4.6 (4.0 to 5.3) for black patients. AF diagnosis was first made in general practice in 39% of incident AF.
Conclusions The incidence of AF in the UK has increased gradually in the last decade, with more than 200 000 first-ever non-valvular AF cases expected in 2015. This increase is only partly due to population ageing, though the principal increase has been in the elderly hospitalised for a reason other than AF.
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