Age-specific trends of atrial fibrillation-related ischaemic stroke and transient ischaemic attack, anticoagulant use and risk factor profile in Chinese population: a 15-year study

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Prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is increasing globally, and the fivefold increase in stroke risk constitutes significant healthcare burden.


We aim to evaluate the trends of AF-related stroke and transient ischaemic attack (AF-stroke/TIA), prior anticoagulant use and their risk factors in different age groups in Chinese population.


Data were retrieved from the stroke registry at Prince of Wales Hospital. We compared the data at 5-year intervals over a 15-year period (years 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014).


A total of 3894 patients were included, 712 patients had AF-stroke/TIA. Over the 15 years, the total number of ischaemic stroke/TIA fluctuated slightly during the period from year 1999 to 2009, and increased by 21.5% in the year 2014. While AF-stroke/TIA increased continuously with time by 282.1%. Increasing trend of AF-stroke/TIA was observed in all age groups. Absolute growth was highest in patients aged ≥80 years; relative growth was most pronounced in those between 65 and 72 years (>3.5 fold increase). Throughout the 15 years, >70% of AF-stroke/TIA occurred in non-anticoagulated patients, and this proportion increased with age. Increasing trends in both hypertension and ischaemic heart disease were also observed in patients with AF aged ≥73 years.


AF-stroke/TIA has increased continuously by >2.5 fold in Chinese population over a 15-year period, with the majority of AF-stroke/TIA occurring in non-anticoagulated patients. Strategic planning is needed to optimise anticoagulant use, particularly non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in elderly patients, low-income group and those with ischaemic heart disease requiring concomitant antiplatelet therapy.

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