Objective: Temporal changes in the healthcare burden of atrial fibrillation (AF) are less well known in rapidly ageing Asian countries. We examined trends in hospitalisations, costs, treatment patterns and outcomes related to AF in Korea.
Materials and Methods: Using the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database involving the entire adult Korean population (n=41 701 269 in 2015), we analysed a nationwide AF cohort representing 931 138 patients with AF. We studied all hospitalisations due to AF from 2006 to 2015.
Results: Overall, hospitalisations for AF increased by 420% from 767 to 3986 per 1 million Korean population from 2006 to 2015. Most admissions occurred in patients aged ≥70 years, and the most frequent coexisting conditions were hypertension, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Hospitalisations mainly due to major bleeding and AF control increased, whereas hospitalisations mainly due to ischaemic stroke and myocardial infarction decreased. The total cost of care increased even after adjustment for inflation from €68.4 million in 2006 to €388.4 million in 2015, equivalent to 0.78% of the Korean NHIS total expenditure. Overall in-hospital mortality decreased from 7.5% in 2006 to 4.3% in 2015. The in-hospital mortality was highest in patients ≥80 years of age (7.7%) and in patients with chronic kidney disease (7.4%).
Conclusions: AF hospitalisations have increased exponentially over the past 10 years in Korea, in association with an increase in comorbid chronic diseases. Mortality associated with AF hospitalisations decreased during the last decade, but hospitalisation costs have markedly increased.