Sleep-disordered breathing in patients with atrial fibrillation and normal systolic left ventricular function

Thomas Bitter, Christoph Langer, Jürgen Vogt, Mathias Lange, Dieter Horstkotte, Olaf Oldenburg
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 2009, 106 (10): 164-70

BACKGROUND: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more common in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). Recently, an additional association between central sleep apnea/Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSA/CSR) and AFib has been described. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and type of sleep-disordered breathing in patients with AFib and normal systolic left ventricular function.

METHODS: 150 patients (110 men and 40 women, aged 66.1 +/- 1.7 years) underwent cardiorespiratory polygraphy, capillary blood gas analysis, measurement of NT-proBNP, and echocardiography to determine the diameter of the left atrium (LAD) and the peak systolic pulmonary artery pressure (PAP).

RESULTS: Sleep-disordered breathing was documented in 74% of all patients with AFib (43% had OSA and 31% had CSA/CSR). Patients with CSA/CSR had a higher PAP, a higher apnea-hypopnea index, a greater LAD, and a lower capillary blood pCO(2) than patients with OSA.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with AFib were found to have not only a high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, as has been described previously, but also a high prevalence of CSA/CSR. It remains unknown whether CSA/CSR is more common in AFib because of diastolic dysfunction or whether phenomena associated with CSA/CSR predispose to AFib. Further research on this question is needed.

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