Sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation: challenges in clinical and translational research

Benedikt Linz, Julie Norup Hertel, Jeroen Hendriks, Arnela Saljic, Dobromir Dobrev, Mathias Baumert, Thomas Jespersen, Dominik Linz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is present in 21–74% of all patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Treatment of SDB by positive airway pressure may help to prevent recurrence of AF after electrical cardioversion and help to improve AF ablation success rates in non-randomized studies. Areas covered: In this review, the current understanding of the atrial arrhythmogenic pathophysiology of SDB is summarized, and diagnostic and therapeutic challenges in AF patients are discussed. Current international recommendations are presented, and a comprehensive literature search is undertaken. Expert opinion: AF patients with SDB rarely report SDB-related symptoms such as daytime sleepiness. Therefore, systematic home sleep testing evaluation should be considered for all patients eligible for rhythm control strategy. A close interdisciplinary collaboration between the electrophysiologist/cardiologist, nurses and sleep-specialists are required for the management of SDB in AF patients. An arrhythmia-orientated assessment of SDB may better quantify SDB-related AF risk in an individual patient and may help to better guide targeted and personalized SDB treatment in AF patients as a component of rhythm and symptom control strategies. Finally, randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm the relationship between SDB and AF, and the benefits of routine testing and treatment of SDB in AF patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • CPAP
  • polygraphy
  • pulmonary vein isolation
  • screening
  • sleep apnea


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