Atrial fibrillation is a common disease of the heart, characterized by an irregular and, if not treated, mostly fast heart rhythm. The origin of the disease is the atrial part of the heart. It is a rare disease before the age of 55, but the prevalence is sharply increasing with age. In many cases patients do not even notice that they have a rhythm disorder. But if they have complaints, they mention dyspnoea, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and sometimes syncope. For many years, atrial fibrillation has been considered as an innocent bystander of old age, but it is nowadays generally accepted that atrial fibrillation is associated with impaired quality of life and increased morbidity and mortality. Treatment regimens evolved as a consequence, unfortunately sometimes introducing new potential harms to the patients with this disease. Atrial fibrillation is involved in pathological processes through the whole body and has through that inspired numerous investigators in internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and epidemiology. The disease concept has evolved as science evolved and often has been in the centre of intense dispute.

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J.C.M. Witteman (Jacqueline) , A. Hofman (Albert)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam
Erasmus MC, NWO, Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, EC, Municipality of Rotterdam, Netherlands Heart Foundation, Stichting Zorg op Noord (Rotterdam)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Heeringa, J. (2009, June 17). Epidemiology of atrial fibrillation in the general population. Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam. Retrieved from