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Strikingly Low Prevalence of Atrial Fibrillation in Elderly Tanzanians

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthew Dewhurst, Dr Philip Adams, Dr Felicity DewhurstORCiD, Professor Richard Walker


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Objectives To determine the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in individuals aged 70 and older in a rural African community. Design Community-based cross-sectional survey. Setting A demographic surveillance site (DSS) within the rural Hai district of northern Tanzania. Participants Approximately one-quarter (N=2,232) of the population aged 70 and older of the DSS. Measurements Participants were screened for AF using 12-lead electrocardiography; demographic and 1-year mortality data were collected; and functional status, body mass index, and blood pressure were recorded. The sex-specific prevalence of AF in each 5-year age band was determined. Results Fifteen of 2,232 participants (12 women, 3 men) had AF, giving a crude prevalence rate of 0.67% (95% confidence interval (CI)=0.331.01) and an age-adjusted prevalence of 0.64% (95% CI=0.310.97). Prevalence was 0.96% (95% CI=0.421.49) in women and 0.31% (95% CI=-0.04 to 1.24) in men. Prevalence increased with age, from 0.46% (95% CI=0.010.90) in those aged 70741.30% (95% CI=0.172.42) in those aged 85 and older. One-year mortality was 50% in women and 66.6% in men. Conclusions This is the first published community-based AF prevalence study from sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence rate of AF is strikingly lower than in other elderly populations studied, yet the 1-year mortality rate was exceedingly high.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dewhurst MJ, Adams PC, Gray WK, Dewhurst F, Orega GP, Chaote P, Walker RW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Year: 2012

Volume: 60

Issue: 6

Pages: 1135-1140

Print publication date: 30/05/2012

ISSN (print): 0002-8614

ISSN (electronic): 1532-5415

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.03963.x


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