A study in the December 2020 edition of Nature and Science of Sleep validates the use of WatchPAT against gold standard in-lab polysomnogram (PSG) in the diagnosis of sleep apnea in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

The study, “Watch-PAT is useful in the diagnosis of sleep apnea in patients with atrial fibrillation,” which included centers in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel, recruited 101 patients who were previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (persistent or paroxysmal) and suspected to have sleep apnea. The study concluded that WatchPAT, based on PAT technology (which measures and records the peripheral arterial tone) can diagnose sleep apnea events in patients with AF with and without nocturnal active atrial fibrillation episodes with accuracy similar to what was previously reported for general population, and with significant correlation to PSG testing outcomes.

“Since arrhythmias in general and AF in particular are quite common in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), understanding the accuracy of WatchPAT in detecting sleep apnea in these patients is of substantial importance,” says Giora Pillar, MD, PhD, head sleep clinic network in the Haifa district of Clalit Medical Services, in a release. “The accepted gold standard for sleep apnea diagnosis is PSG; however, access to PSG is limited. The availability of home sleep apnea Ttesting (HSAT) has provided a safe and convenient alternative, especially during the recent COVID-19 epidemic when many sleep labs were closed.”

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“The rising burden of AF has elevated the need for strategies aiming to lower its risk of development and progression. Sleep apnea has been recognized as one of the important modifiable risk factors for AF with evidence (level IIb) suggesting that effective management of sleep apnea improves AF. Because many AF patients do not present with typical SA symptoms, traditional screening questions and so called ‘eye-balling’ was proven to have low sensitivity to sleep apnea in this population,” says Gilad Glick, CEO of Itamar Medical, in a release. “Encouragingly, many international professional societies, including ESC [European Society of Cardiology] and AHA [American Heart Association] recommend screening and management of patients with AF for sleep apnea. The addition of the WatchPAT, based on PAT technology as an alternative home-based sleep test has the potential to meaningfully increase diagnoses and to improve the management of these patients.”