Aim: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. People with AF have a significantly increased risk of thromboembolic events, including stroke, and the main treatment is therefore aimed at preventing thromboembolic events via anticoagulation with warfarin or acetylsalicylic acid. However, the development of new anticoagulation treatments has prompted a need to know the current cost of AF-related thromboembolic events, for future cost-effectiveness comparisons with the existing treatments. In this study, we estimated the cost of thromboembolic events and their prevention among Swedish AF patients in 2010.
Methods: The relevant costs were identified, quantified, and valued. The complications included were ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other types of major bleeding caused by AF. Treatments intended to lower the risk of ischaemic stroke were also included. A societal perspective was used, including productivity loss due to morbidity. Patients with a CHADS2 score of 1 or higher were included.
Results: Among the 9 340 682 inhabitants of Sweden, there are 118 000 patients with AF and at least one more risk factor for stroke, comprising 1.26% of the population. Of these patients, 43.3% are treated with warfarin, 28.3% use acetylsalicylic acid, and 28.3% are assumed to have no anticoagulation treatment. The cost of AF-related complications and its prevention in Sweden was estimated at €437 million for 2010, corresponding to €3 712 per AF patient per year. The highest cost was caused by stroke, and the second highest by the cost of monitoring the warfarin treatment. As the prevalence of AF is expected to increase in the future, AF-related costs are also expected to rise.
Conclusion: Thromboembolic events cause high costs. New, easily-administered treatments that could reduce the risk of stroke have the potential to be cost-effective.
Credits: Thomas Davidsona, PhD; Magnus Husberga, B.Sc; Magnus Janzona, MD; Lars-Åke Levina, PhD