• cardiovascular disease;
  • cost-measurement;
  • Germany;
  • treatment costs


Objective:  Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an increasing burden on health-care systems because of an aging population. This study aimed to estimate health-care resource use and costs of treating AF in Germany.

Method:  A 6-month multicenter prospective observational cohort study with additional 3-month retrospective clinical data collection was performed in physician practices. AF-related resource use was documented by 3-month retrospective and 6-month prospective clinical data from physician charts and prospectively by patient questionnaires at 3 and 6 months. Cost calculation was from the health-care payer perspective.

Results:  A total of 361 patients (mean age 71 ± 9 years, 61% male) were recruited from 45 physician practices. Of 311 (86.1%) patients with complete data, 75% had persistent AF; oral anticoagulation and/or aspirin were prescribed in 98%. A rhythm-control strategy was applied in 27%, rate control in 58%, and 15% received neither antiarrhythmic medication nor cardioversion. A higher proportion of rhythm-control patients had paroxysmal AF (P < 0.001). Mean annual AF-related per-patient cost was 827 Euro ± 1476 (median 386 Euro). 50% of total costs were incurred by 11% of patients, driven by AF-related hospitalizations (44%). Antiarrhythmics and stroke prophylaxis accounted for 20% and 15% of expenditures, respectively. Mean annualized costs were higher for rhythm-control patients than for rate-control patients or those without antiarrhythmic treatment (1572 vs. 780 vs. 544 Euro, P < 0.001).

Conclusion:  This evaluation provides an overview of current treatment modalities and cost of AF management in Germany. Efforts to reduce the economic burden of AF should focus on avoidance of AF hospital admissions and optimization of stroke prevention and rhythm control.