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Original research
Trends of global burden of atrial fibrillation/flutter from Global Burden of Disease Study 2017


Objective This study aimed to estimate the global burden of atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter (AF/AFL).

Methods We retrieved data from the Global Health Data Exchange query tool and estimated the age-standardised rates (ASRs) of prevalence, incidence and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) of AF/AFL, as well as the population attributable fraction (PAF) of risk factors contributing to DALYs. ASRs and sociodemographic index (SDI) were assessed using Pearson’s correlation coefficients.

Results In 2017, there were 37.6 million (95% uncertainty interval (UI) 32.5 to 42.6 million) individuals with AF/AFL globally. The prevalence rates increased with increased SDI values in most regions for all years. Men had a higher prevalence than women across all regions except for China. From 1990 to 2017, global prevalence rate decreased by 5.08% (95% UI −6.24% to −3.82%), with the largest decrease noted in the region with high SDI values. The global DALYs rate declined by 2.53% (95% UI −4.16 to −0.29). PAF of elevated systolic blood pressure for attributable DALYs accounted for the highest percentage, followed by high body mass index, alcohol use, high-sodium diet, smoking and lead exposure.

Conclusions Although the ASRs of prevalence, incidence and DALYs decreased from 1990 to 2017, the absolute number of patients with AF/AFL, annual number of new AF/AFL cases and DALYs lost due to AF/AFL increased. This indicates that the burden of AF/AFL is likely to remain high. Systematic surveillance is needed to better identify and manage AF/AFL so as to prevent its various risk factors and complications.

  • atrial fibrillation
  • atrial flutter
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. We retrieved data from the Global Health Data Exchange query tool (, an online tool of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2017. The database is hosted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the Washington University.

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