Article Text

Prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the Malaysian communities
  1. Chiao Wen Lim1,
  2. Sazzli Kasim1,
  3. Johan Rizwal Ismail1,
  4. Nicholas Yul Chye Chua1,
  5. Rizmy Najme Khir1,
  6. Hafisyatul Aiza Zainal Abidin1,
  7. Effarezan Abdul Rahman1,
  8. Mohd Kamal Mohd Arshad1,
  9. Zubin Ibrahim Othman1,
  10. Khalid Yusoff1,2
  1. 1Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia
  2. 2UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chiao Wen Lim, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh, Selangor 47000, Malaysia; chiaowen.lim{at}


Background and aim Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice. The REDISCOVER (Responding to Increasing Cardiovascular disease prevalence) study is an observational longitudinal community-based study that tracks changing lifestyles, risk factors and chronic disease in urban and rural areas of Malaysia. In this study, we aim to study the prevalence of AF and its associated risk factors.

Methods The study was conducted between 2007 and 2014. Participants were required to complete questionnaires on cardiovascular risk factors and medical history, and undergo physical examinations, blood tests, ECG and echocardiography examinations. Demographic variables including weight, height, blood pressure, serum glucose and serum lipid were recorded. Participants with AF were identified from their baseline ECG and at 3-year follow up.

Results A total of 10 805 subjects participated in the study. Mean age was 52.6(±11.6) years and 56% were female; 4.4% of subjects had a diagnosis of ischaemic heart disease, 1.3% had a previous stroke, 16.7% had diabetes mellitus and 45.6% had hypertension. There were 53 subjects diagnosed with AF at baseline, giving a prevalence of 0.49%, and 0.54% at 3 years. AF was more prevalent in males (58.5% in the AF group compared to 43.9% in sinus rhythm (SR) subjects; p=0.03) and the older age group. Ischaemic heart disease was more prevalent in AF subjects (22.6%) compared to SR subjects (4.4%) (p<0.001). In the AF group previous stroke had occurred in 1.9% of subjects compared to 1.3% in the SR population (p=0.51), and 24.5% of subjects in the AF group had diabetes compared to 16.6% in the SR group (p=0.12). There was a significant difference in the prevalence of hypertension between the AF group (59.6%) compared to the SR subjects (45.5%) (p=0.04).

Conclusions The prevalence of AF in the Malaysian population was low at 0.54% compared to the global average of 1%. We found that AF was associated with older age, male sex, hypertension, and ischaemic heart disease.

Statistics from


  • Twitter Follow Johan Rizwal Ismail at @johanrizwal

  • Contributors CWL and SK wrote the manuscript and were involved in the data collection of the REDISCOVER Study. JRI performed the statistical analysis and contributed to the critical discussion of the results. NCYC, RNK, EAR, MKMA, HAZA and ZIO contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript and were involved in the data collection. KY is the Principal Investigator of this study. He played a major role in the conception and design of the study, contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript and intellectual content, and provided expertise and oversight throughout the process. All authors read and approved the final version.

  • Funding Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Participant consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.