A new study from Duke Clinical Research Institute shows that patients with atrial fibrillation who also have obstructive sleep apnea have more severe symptoms and a higher risk of hospitalization.

OSA patients were more likely to have severe or disabling symptoms (22% vs. 16%) and were more often on rhythm control therapy (35% vs 31%). Patients with OSA had higher risk of hospitalization, while the risk of death and the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, and stroke/TIA and major bleeding were similar in both groups. AF progression occurred in 221 (18% of patients with nonpermanent AF at baseline) of the patients with OSA and 984 (18%) of the patients without OSA. Patients on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment were less likely to progress to more permanent forms of AF compared with patients without CPAP

The researchers noted that these findings emphasize the importance of screening for OSA in patients diagnosed with AF, as well as the importance of CPAP treatment for OSA.

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