THE number of Britons living with fatal heart disease has risen by almost three quarters in two decades, experts warn.
Doctors claim that an aging population and the obesity epidemic are fueling the rise.
Annual diagnosis of atrial fibrillation reached 202,333 in 2017 – a 72 percent increase from 117,880 in 1998.
Researchers warn that more people now have the deadly heart problem than the four most common cancers – breast, prostate, lung and colon.
An estimated two million Britons have atrial fibrillation, which causes a dangerously irregular heartbeat.
It is responsible for up to a third of all strokes and also increases the risk of heart failure.
It can also cause blood clots, which some experts believe can occur in the brain and trigger dementia.
The latest research was funded by the British Heart Foundation and published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.
Experts from the University of Leeds analyzed data from GPs and hospitals for 3.4 million people in England to calculate the annual cases of atrial fibrillation between 1998 and 2017.
Researchers said the jump in cases is mainly due to an aging and unhealthy population.
Two out of three adults in the UK today are overweight or obese.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The sheer increase in the number of people now living with atrial fibrillation is overwhelming, and what’s more, many more people will be unaware that they too have it risk of stroke in their heart.
“This research also highlights the health disparities that exist in atrial fibrillation and other health conditions, such as obesity and hypertension, that contribute to its development.”
Symptoms of the condition include palpitations, weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
But many do not know about their illness.
Now lead researcher Professor Chris Gale will test a new NHS prediction tool that will identify these most threatened by AF.
The Leeds Uni professor said: “Changes in healthcare are being driven by data and we have produced the first blueprint of AF, showing the growing impact it is having on society.
“Our study paints a clear picture of the trends and gaps that urgently need to be addressed to achieve health equity and avoid unnecessary stroke.
“We hope it can be used as a reference point to determine whether new interventions and public health strategies are successful in stemming the rising tide of cases and burdens associated with atrial fibrillation.”
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https://www.thesun.ie/health/8705441/urgent-warning-heart-condition/ Urgent warning as millions live with a deadly heart disease but may not know it