Increase in atrial fibrillation cases driven by growing and aging populations

30 January 2017 (Last Updated January 30th, 2017 05:43)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a disorder of the heart’s conduction system that increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Risk for AF greatly increases with age. Due to populations that are both growing and aging, GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in diagnosed prevalent cases of AF over the next ten years.

Increase in atrial fibrillation cases driven by growing and aging populations

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a disorder of the heart’s conduction system that increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Risk for AF greatly increases with age. Due to populations that are both growing and aging, GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in diagnosed prevalent cases of AF over the next ten years.

Although AF affects people of all ages, the condition is most common in people 40 years of age and older. GlobalData epidemiologists studied the diagnosed prevalent cases among people ages 40 years and older in the eight major markets (8MM; US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, and Canada) and found that in 2015, adults ages 70 years and older accounted for nearly 70% of prevalent cases. Figure 1 shows the increase in diagnosed prevalent cases of AF with age in the 8MM.

GlobalData epidemiologists forecast that diagnosed prevalent cases in the 8MM among people ages 40 years and older will increase from 9,487,217 in 2015 to 11,536,773 in 2025, at an annual growth rate (AGR) of 2.16%. The US and Canada are forecast to have especially high growth, with AGRs of 3.30% and 3.23%, respectively. Figure 2 shows the forecast growth in diagnosed prevalent cases in the 8MM.

The projected growth in diagnosed prevalent cases of AF is driven by growing and aging populations, especially by the faster growth of the elderly population. For example, the population of adults in the US ages 70 and above is expected to grow from 31,735,910 to 45,717,490 (AGR 4.41%) from 2015 to 2025. Meanwhile, the American population of adults ages 40 and above is expected to grow from 152,040,320 to 170,445,300 at an AGR of 1.21%. This shift in population, compounded with the increase in prevalence of AF with age, is the main driver of the increase in AF cases. This increase is expected even with the age-specific prevalence held constant.

Since many AF cases go undetected, the number of undiagnosed cases may also increase between 2015 and 2025. Since AF is the leading cause of stroke, and a large proportion of AF patients remain undiagnosed, improved diagnosis and management of AF can help reduce the burden and disability associated with stroke.