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AIMS: The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is positively correlated with prior cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and CVD risk factors but is lower in Chinese than Europeans despite their higher burden of CVD. We examined the prevalence and prognosis of AF and other electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities in the China Kadoorie Biobank. METHODS AND RESULTS: A random sample of 25 239 adults (mean age 59.5 years, 62% women) had a 12-lead ECG recorded and interpreted using a Mortara VERITAS™ algorithm in 2013-14. Participants were followed up for 5 years for incident stroke, ischaemic heart disease, heart failure (HF), and all CVD, overall and by CHA2DS2-VASc scores, age, sex, and area. Overall, 1.2% had AF, 13.6% had left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), and 28.1% had ischaemia (two-thirds of AF cases also had ischaemia or LVH). The prevalence of AF increased with age, prior CVD, and levels of CHA₂DS₂-VASc scores (0.5%, 1.3%, 2.1%, 2.9%, and 4.4% for scores <2, 2, 3, 4, and ≥5, respectively). Atrial fibrillation was associated with two-fold higher hazard ratios (HR) for CVD (2.15; 95% CI, 1.71-2.69) and stroke (1.88; 1.44-2.47) and a four-fold higher HR for HF (3.79; 2.21-6.49). The 5-year cumulative incidence of CVD was comparable for AF, prior CVD, and CHA₂DS₂-VASc scores ≥ 2 (36.7% vs. 36.2% vs. 37.7%, respectively) but was two-fold greater than for ischaemia (19.4%), LVH (18.0%), or normal ECG (14.1%), respectively. CONCLUSION: The findings highlight the importance of screening for AF together with estimation of CHA₂DS₂-VASc scores for prevention of CVD in Chinese adults.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Heart J Open

Publication Date





Atrial fibrillation, Ischaemia, Left ventricular hypertrophy, Stroke and ischaemic heart disease