This article was originally published here
BMJ Open. 2021 Mar 29;11(3):e040404. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-040404.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) and to assess how these patients are being cared for: what anticoagulants are being prescribed and are they being prescribed as recommended?
DESIGN: Retrospective longitudinal study.
SETTING: This study was conducted in the Regional Health Administration of Northern Portugal.
PARTICIPANTS: This study used a database that included 63526 patients with code K78 of the International Classification of Primary Care between January 2016 and December 2018.
RESULTS: The prevalence of AF among adults over 40 years in the northern region of Portugal was 2.3% in 2016, 2.8% in 2017 and 3% in 2018. From a total of 63 526 patients, 95.8% had an indication to receive anticoagulation therapy. Of these, 44 326 (72.9%) are being treated with anticoagulants: 17 936 (40.5%) were prescribed vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) and 26 390 (59.5%) were prescribed non-VKA anticoagulants. On the other hand, 2688 patients of the total (4.2%) had no indication to receive anticoagulation therapy. Of these 2688 patients, 1100 (40.9%) were receiving anticoagulants.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of AF is 3%. Here, we report evidence of both undertreatment and overtreatment. Although having an indication, a considerable proportion of patients (27.1%) are not anticoagulated, and among patients with AF without an indication to receive anticoagulation therapy, a considerable proportion (40.9%) are receiving anticoagulants. The AF-React study brings extremely relevant conclusions to Portugal and follows real-world studies in patients with AF in Europe, presenting some data not yet studied.