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Prevalence of atrial fibrillation in adults participating in a large-scale voluntary screening programme in Belgium

By N. (Neree) Claes, C. (Christophe) van Laethem, M. (Marc) Goethals, P. (Peter) Goethals, G. (Georges) Mairesse, B. (Bruno) Schwagten, D. (Dieter) Nuyens, J. Schrooten and J. (Johan) Vijgen


Objective Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia in clinical practice. AF fulfils many of the criteria for a screening programme. No data about the prevalence of AF in non-hospitalized patients are available in Belgium. The aim of the study was to assess feasibility and effectiveness of a nationwide-organized voluntary screening programme in the general population in Belgium. Methods A total of 13.564 participants were screened, of whom 10,758 were older than 40 years (GSP group). Participants filled in stroke risk stratification questionnaires (CHADS2 and CHA2DS2-VASc). A one-lead electrocardiogram was performed. Results 228 participants had AF at the time of screening (AF group), with 125 women and 103 men (i.e. 1.9% and 2.6% of total women and men), representing a prevalence of 2.2% (95% CI 1.3% and 3.0%) of the screened population. Age of the AF group was 67 ± 12 y (range 40-87 y). Using the CHADS2-score, 58% of participants with a positive AF screening had a high risk score, and 21% had an intermediate risk score. Using the CHA2DS2-VASc-score, 72% of the participants had a high risk score, and 21% had an intermediate risk score. Conclusion AF was present in 2.2% of the respondents. At least 60% of AF group had an increased risk for thrombo-embolism. Although substantial methodological issues limit the exact interpretation of these results, the present study shows that a volunatry screening programme with a simple screening protocol is able to detect an important number of patients with previously undetected AF

Topics: Atrial fibrillation, Prevalence, Voluntary screening
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.2143/AC.67.3.2160714
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