Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a $3.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to study sleep apnea as a possible cause of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most commonly diagnosed type of arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm.
The 5-year NHLBI grant will enable researchers to study how sleep apnea produces functional and structural changes in the heart that may well contribute to the development of AF.
“The new research will characterize what aspects of sleep apnea lead to AF, homing in on the effects of sleep apnea-induced changes to the structure of the heart, including increases in blood pressure and reductions in oxygen levels,” says the study’s principal investigator, Reena Mehra, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. “The data generated from the research will fuel the development of new approaches for prevention and treatment of AF, and will help identify key factors for future clinical trials,” she says.
The research findings could identify key outcomes for clinical trials and ultimately bolster evidence for considering sleep apnea as a potential target for new strategies to reduce AF-related morbidity including stroke, heart failure, and death.