Prevalence, risk factors, and type of sleep apnea in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background Recent studies have suggested an association between sleep apnea (SA) and atrial fibrillation (AF). We aimed to study the prevalence, characteristics, risk factors and type of sleep apnea (SA) in ablation candidates with paroxysmal AF. Methods/Results We prospectively studied 579 patients with paroxysmal AF, including 157 women (27.1%) and 422 men (72.9%). Mean age was 59.9 ± 9.6 years and mean body mass index (BMI) 28.5 ± 4.5 kg/m2. SA was diagnosed using polygraphy for two nights at home. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), STOP-Bang Questionnaire, and Berlin Questionnaire (BQ) assessed the degree of SA symptoms. A total of 479 (82.7%) patients had an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 5, whereas moderate-severe SA (AHI ≥ 15) was diagnosed in 244 patients (42.1%). The type of SA was predominantly obstructive, with a median AHI of 12.1 (6.7–20.6) (range 0.4–85.8). The median central apnea index was 0.3 (0.1–0.7). AHI increased with age, BMI, waist and neck circumference, body and visceral fat. Using the Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale and the SF-36, patients with more severe SA had a higher AF burden, severity and symptom score and a lower Physical-Component Summary score. Age, male gender, BMI, duration of AF, and habitual snoring were independent risk factors in multivariate analysis (AHI ≥ 15). We found no association between ESS and AHI (R2 = 0.003, p = 0.367). Conclusions In our AF population, SA was highly prevalent and predominantly obstructive. The high prevalence of SA detected in this study may indicate that SA is under-recognized in patients with AF. None of the screening questionnaires predicted SA reliably.