Jun 2, 2015
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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, affecting approximately 1–2 per cent of the population worldwide. Those who suffer from AF have a five times higher risk of stroke. AF prevalence increases with age and it affects roughly 18 per cent of the population over 85. Consequently, as populations age, AF is becoming an increasingly significant public health issue. Over recent years there have been developments in treatment and management options, both for treating the arrhythmia directly, and assessing and reducing the risk of AF-related stroke, but there is a need to ensure that available knowledge is applied optimally to benefit patients so that opportunities to prevent AF-related stroke are not missed. The aims of this project were to assess the current landscape and explore the direction of future developments in AF management in Europe, with a focus on the use of anticoagulants in the prevention of AF-related stroke. Through rapid evidence assessment, key informant interviews, PESTLE analysis and the development and exploration of future scenarios, we have developed sets of shorter- and longer-term recommendations for improving AF-related patient outcomes. The short-term recommendations are: i) improve AF awareness among the public and policymakers; ii) support education about AF management for healthcare professionals and patients; and iii) maintain engagement in AF-related research across the health services.