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According to Bashore et al (2013), AF occurs in 10% of people above age 80. Generally, AF affects about 3% of the population in Europe and the US. The numbers increased by 1% between 2005 and 2014 In the developing countries, incidence is estimated to reach 0.4% for women and 0.5% for men (Lercari et al, 2014).
In a UK-based study, Framingham revealed that the risk of getting AF after 40 equals to one in six, regardless of sex, and one in for in individuals with a history of heart failure (Cottrell, 2011). The analysis of over 0.5 million cases in England allows to assume that males are more likely to develop AF than females (NCC-CC, 2006). However, there is an assumption that the real numbers are higher, since the screening does not cover the entire population (NHS Improvement, 2009). In the UK, 45.000 new cases are registered annually (Iqbal et al, 2005).
Occurrence of AF implies organic lesion of the heart. Common cardiac causes include IHD, rheumatic heart disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathies, and heart failure, while some non-cardiac are the acute infection and lung and thyroid pathology. AF can also be iatrogenic and develop after the surgical manipulations in the thorax (NCC-CC, 2006).
Apparently, AF would not develop without the damage to the cardiac tissue. The lesion becomes the reason why extra stimuli are being generated. The reparation processes in cardiac muscle, stretching and proliferation place more pressure on the atria, which, in turn, increases the pressure in the pulmonary veins. Such condition is known to be the precursor of heart failure, atherosclerosis, obesity, and valve disease – the direct causes of AF (Larson, 2009).
Age is considered to be a principal risk factor for AF, as the incidence ascends from 0,5-1% of the population aged 50 to 23% of people over 80 years (Westerby and Cottrell, 2011). As far as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and hypertension lead to IHD, they also form a
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