Patients living with one of the UK’s most common heart rhythm conditions are 50% less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than they were at the start of the millennium, new research has found.
Analysis of the health records of more than 70,000 patients newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF) showed that mortality from related cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases more than halved over the 16-year study period.
The research showed that dementia now accounts for more deaths within one year of an AF diagnosis than acute stroke, heart attack and heart failure combined, demonstrating the need for more research into the link between dementia and AF.
The study team believe the lower mortality rate can be attributed to better detection and treatment for AF, which, according to the British Heart Foundation, affects more than 1.5 million people in the UK.
But the findings reveal significant health inequalities, showing that the most socioeconomically deprived patients were 22% more likely to die from AF-related conditions than people from the most affluent group.
Additionally, patients are now more likely to be diagnosed with coexisting health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic kidney disease, which have greater health implications for them than AF.