U.S. hospitalizations and costs of care for atrial fibrillation nearly doubled from 1998 to 2010, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.

Over 4.6 million hospitalizations occurred nationwide for atrial fibrillation during the decade, said researchers who found the progressive percentage increase reached 46 percent.

Researchers projected a similar trend in hospitalizations and costs over the next decade and concluded that 541,000 hospitalizations can be expected by 2020, a 28 percent relative increase from 2010.

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database, researchers estimate the cost of hospitalizations to rise by 55 percent in 2020 compared to the cost of care in 2010.

"Atrial fibrillation has increased tremendously over the last decade and is likely to pose a large public health burden in the future," said Sadip Pant, M.D., lead researcher of the study.

An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation.