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Treating Sleep Apnea May Help AF

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Getting sleep apnea under control can help prevent recurrent episodes of atrial fibrillation (AF), a research review suggests.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the airways constrict during sleep, causing repeated stops and starts in breathing. Chronic loud snoring (often interspersed with gasps or choking) is the hallmark symptom. Those pauses in breathing stress the nervous system, which can boost blood pressure and inflammation in the arteriesóand raise a personís risk of developing AF or having frequent recurrences.

Evidence is growing, however, that treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, can lessen the risk. The therapy involves wearing a mask that delivers mild air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep.

The review, published in JACC Clinical Electrophysiology,†analyzed seven studies that followed more than 1,000 patients with both sleep apnea and recurrent AF. Overall, CPAP reduced AF episodes by 42 percent. And it benefited patients regardless of whether their AF was managed with medication or a catheter ablation procedure.

The downside is that none of the studies was a controlled clinical trial, which offers the best proof of a treatmentís benefits. However, itís clear that treating sleep apnea is important in its own right. If you (or your bedmate) think you have symptoms, ask your doctor for an evaluation.

Posted in Heart Health on April 25, 2016


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer


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Health After 50 Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the editors cannot be answered in this space.

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CPAP is not the only treatment modality for sleep apnea. Mandibular advancement devices also are used, often with good effect for the apnea. I'd also like to see a study of their effect on atrial fibrillation.

Posted by: DenisBH | April 25, 2016 9:46 AM

CPAP is not the only treatment modality for sleep apnea. Mandibular advancement devices also are used, often with good effect for the apnea. I'd also like to see a study of their effect on atrial fibrillation.

Posted by: DenisBH | April 25, 2016 9:46 AM

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