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Pulm Med. 2013;2013:621736. doi: 10.1155/2013/621736. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

The Relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Atrial Fibrillation: A Complex Interplay.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, The Tufts Cardiovascular Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


In recent years, growing evidence suggests an association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common sleep breathing disorder which is increasing in prevalence as the obesity epidemic surges, and atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia. AF is a costly public health problem increasing a patient's risk of stroke, heart failure, and all-cause mortality. It remains unclear whether the association is based on mutual risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, or whether OSA is an independent risk factor and causative in nature. This paper explores the pathophysiology of OSA which may predispose to AF, clinical implications of stroke risk in this cohort who display overlapping disease processes, and targeted treatment strategies such as continuous positive airway pressure and AF ablation.

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