Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac arrhythmia that is characterized by rapid disorganized atrial electrical activity resulting in absence of atrial contractions. It is diagnosed on the basis of typical findings on an electrocardiogram (ECG). The characteristic ECG findings are absence of P-waves, and an irregular heart rate. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include palpitations, dyspnea, reduced exercise capacity, chest pain and dizziness, but it often goes without symptoms. Although atrial fibrillation is often asymptomatic it has serious consequences for the health of affected individuals and is a substantial burden for the health care system. Atrial fibrillation is associated with a higher risk of several serious complications. It is associated with a three to five fold higher risk of stroke. Furthermore, it is associated with a higher risk of dementia, heart failure, and it is associated with increased mortality independent of age sex and other cardiovascular risk factors. Also, it is associated with lower quality of life, even patients without symptoms have a lower perceived general health and gobal life satisfaction than healthy subjects. The prevalence and incidence of atrial fibrillation increase with age. It is estimated that the lifetime risk for development of atrial fibrillation is one in every four adults over 40 years of age. As Western populations are projected to age in the coming decades it is likely that there will be an increase in the number of affected individuals with several types of chronic disease. Several studies projected that the future number of adults with atrial fibrillation in the United States will have doubled by the year 2050.13-15 Not much is known about the potential rise in the number of individuals with atrial fibrillation in the Netherlands and in the European Union but since these populations are projected to age, an increase in the number of patients can be expected.

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J.C.M. Witteman (Jacqueline) , B.H.Ch. Stricker (Bruno)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
The Rotterdam Study is supported by the Erasmus Medical Center and Erasmus University Rotterdam; The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO); The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); the Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly (RIDE); The Netherlands Heart Foundation; the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; the Ministry of Health Welfare and Sports; the European Commission (DG XII); and the Municipality of Rotterdam. Support for genotyping was provided by The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (175.010.2005.011, 911.03.012) ; Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly (RIDE); The Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI)/Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) project nr. 050-060-810. Financial support for the publication of this thesis was kindly provided by the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Aging (NCHA).
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Krijthe, B.P. (2013, May 17). Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from