The Relationship Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Atrial Fibrillation: Guidance for Clinicians

Christopher J. Lettieri, MD


December 19, 2012

In This Article

Epidemiologic Relationship Between AF and OSA

As stated, the prevalence of OSA is significantly higher among patients with AF than the general public. Among consecutive patients with AF scheduled for electrocardioversion, Gami and colleagues[6] identified OSA in 17% more patients than controls.Similarly, Bitter and colleagues[7] established that the prevalence of OSA was 42.7% among consecutive patients with AF.This prevalence was even higher in a study by Braga and colleagues,[8] who found OSA in 81.6% of patients with AF.

Not only is OSA more commonly observed in patients with AF, but the incidence of AF is considerably higher in those with OSA. It also seems that AF is more likely to develop in those with more severe OSA. In the Sleep Heart Health Study,[9] patients with severe OSA (apnea/hypopnea index [AHI] > 30 events/hr) had a 4-fold increased risk for AF (odds ratio, 4.02; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-15.74).