The heart condition becoming more common in middle-aged adults

A University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study found that 25% of patients with atrial fibrillation were younger than 65 — more than tenfold the estimated prevalence of 2%.

The study, published April 22 in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, analyzed data from more than 67,000 UPMC patients seeking care for Afib from January 2010 through December 2019.

Here are three findings:

  1. For those under 65 with Afib, survival rates were 1.3 to 1.5 times worse among men and 1.82 to 3.16 times worse for women, compared to people in the same age group without Afib.

  2. People with Afib aged 50 to 65 also had comorbidities: 58% had high blood pressure, 23% had diabetes and 51% had high cholesterol.

  3. Of patients under 50 years old with more than one hospitalization, 1.3% were hospitalized for myocardial infarction, 4.8% for heart failure and 1.1% for stroke. By comparison, 2.2% of patients 50 to 65 were hospitalized for myocardial infarction , 7.4% for heart failure and 1.1% for stroke.

"Patients with AF aged <65 years have significant comorbidity burden and considerable long-term mortality," the study authors wrote. "They are also at a significantly increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction. These patients warrant an aggressive focus on RF and comorbidity evaluation and management."

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