HomeDomestic NewsAlarming Rise in Atrial Fibrillation Cases Among Danes Revealed

Alarming Rise in Atrial Fibrillation Cases Among Danes Revealed

A new comprehensive study from the Danish Center for Health Services Research at Aalborg University has revealed a worrying increase in the number of Danes suffering from atrial fibrillation – a common form of heart arrhythmia. The study, which included data from 3.5 million Danes from 2000 to 2022, shows that every third Dane will now be affected by atrial fibrillation during their lifetime, an increase from previously every fourth. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by irregular heartbeats, which can lead to symptoms such as chest discomfort, palpitations, and shortness of breath.

Currently, over 130,000 Danes live with this condition, and the number of new cases is over 20,000 annually. More alarmingly, the research also shows that two out of five people with atrial fibrillation subsequently develop heart failure – a much higher rate than previously believed. Heart failure is the most frequent complication of atrial fibrillation, and the prognosis is bleak; one-third of people with atrial fibrillation die from heart failure.

“It is crucial that more is done in this area than now,” says Nicklas Vinter, a doctor, postdoc, and Ph.D. at the Danish Center for Health Services Research. He points out that the background for the significant increase in atrial fibrillation is partly due to an aging population, but also that doctors have become better at treating heart diseases that were previously fatal.

To slow the development of atrial fibrillation and its complications, better prevention is needed. This includes not only medical treatment but also a broader effort to improve patients’ lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and management of other health problems such as blood pressure and obesity. Research director at the Danish Heart Foundation, Gunnar Gislason, also emphasizes the need for a more comprehensive approach to treatment. “We are good at treating with blood-thinning medication, which reduces the risk of strokes, but we need to be better at addressing everything else,” he says.

It is clear that while progress has been made in the treatment of heart diseases, Denmark is facing a growing challenge in handling the broader consequences of atrial fibrillation, which requires a combined effort from both the healthcare system and the individual citizen.

Read the danish version here

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