Asymptomatic AF screening could reduce strokes cost-effectively

Senior researcher Professor Ben Freedman from the University of Sydney and colleagues conducted a cohort study looking at 5500 patients who had incidentally detected ambulatory atrial fibrillation (IA-AF). They were matched against gender controls and followed for three years.

The study showed that previously undetected asymptomatic AF doubles the risk of stroke and premature death compared to age and gender matched control subjects.

“This study indicates that widespread screening for asymptomatic atrial fibrillation could cost-effectively reduce strokes and their associated disability, and help save lives,” said Professor Freedman.

Warfarin was received by just over half of the patients in the year following diagnosis and another 44.9% received warfarin after 180 days. The remainder were given antiplatelet drugs in the 180 days following AF diagnosis, largely aspirin, compared to 20.0% (4930 of 24705) of controls. This compared to 0.2%

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