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BMC Fam Pract. 2002 May 24;3:11.

Atrial fibrillation in a primary care practice: prevalence and management.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Atrial fibrillation is a common serious cardiac arrhythmia. Knowing the prevalence of atrial fibrillation and documentation of medical management are important in the provision of primary care. This study sought to determine the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in a primary care population and to identify and quantify the treatments being used for stroke prevention in this group of patients.


A prevalence study through chart audit was conducted in the family medicine practice at the Sunnybrook campus of the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre. The main outcome measures were the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in our primary care practice and the use of warfarin for stroke prevention in this population.


261 patients in our practice have atrial fibrillation. The overall prevalence in our family practice unit is 3.9%. When considering patients aged 60 and over, the prevalence rises to 12.2%. 204 of our patients with atrial fibrillation (78.2%) are currently being treated with warfarin. Another 21 patients were previously treated and discontinued for a number of reasons. Of the 57 patients not currently treated with warfarin, 44 are treated with ASA, 2 with ticlopidine, and 11 are receiving no preventative treatment.


The prevalence of atrial fibrillation in our practice is higher than the range of prevalence reported in the general literature. However, our coverage with warfarin treatment exceeds previous reports in the literature.

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