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Healthy Living Blog

AFib and Sleep Apnea

February 15, 2021 | Nichole Hance, BS, RRT, RCP

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Recently, a link has been found between atrial fibrillation (AFib) and obstructive sleep apnea. In a recent study published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, approximately 82% of AFib patients had undiagnosed sleep apnea.

So what is AFib and what is sleep apnea?

Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, affects an estimated 6 million Americans. It is an arrhythmia characterized by a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke and other heart-related complications. Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In AFib, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood to the ventricles.

Some people may have no symptoms of AFib but those that do may experience:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to exercise
  • Weakness
  • Fast heart rate or palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

Obstructive sleep apnea is the intermittent airflow blockage during sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Gasping during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Episodes of no breathing, breathing through the mouth, loud breathing, or shortness of breath
  • Hyperactivity or irritability
  • Bedwetting or excessive urination at night
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Sore throat
  • Teeth grinding

After diagnosing a patient with atrial fibrillation, a doctor might recommend testing for obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

Although atrial fibrillation can have a range of causes — age, heart disease, and hypertension among them — this recent research reveals a strong link between AFib and OSA.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, the Fisher Titus Sleep Center can help. The Sleep Center is located on Executive Dr. in Norwalk and does not require a referral from your primary care physician for a sleep study.

We are flexible and perform sleep studies weekdays or weekends to accommodate the patient’s schedule. A bariatric room is available as well as options to sleep elevated. We have a very experienced sleep staff that are all registered. The sleep center is accredited through ACHC.

To schedule a sleep study, call 419-668-5537 and choose option 1.

About Nichole

Nichole Hance, BS, RRT, RCP is the Manager of Respiratory Services at Fisher-Titus. For more information about the Sleep Center, visit fishertitus.org/sleep-center.