Many over-40s living with undiagnosed AF time bomb

The incidence of undiagnosed AF in the community could be as high as one in 200 in this age group, the annual scientific meeting of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine was told in Sydney last week.

With Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing more than 10 million Australians are aged 40 or older, around 50,000 may have AF based on this estimate.

Professor Ben Freedman, professor of cardiology at Concord Hospital and deputy dean of the Sydney Medical School, told the meeting his study of more than 1000 pre-admission ECGs in over-40s patients showed 3.1% were in AF.

Of those, 0.5% were cases of incidental, unrecognised AF not associated with symptoms or elevated resting heart rate.

“This means there’s a lot of people out there who have AF who don’t know about it,” Professor Freedman told MO.

Asymptomatic AF episodes were more common than symptomatic episodes, and silent AF led to