March 21, 2007

Almost 60% of pacemaker patients had undiagnosed sleep apnea—possibly contributing to their heart disease—researchers reported in a small study in the March edition of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Moreover, more than 21% of the patients had severe sleep apnea, characterized by 30 or more periods of interrupted breathing each hour during sleep, said Patrick Lévy, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor physiology at Grenoble University in Grenoble, France.

“Because of the excessive prevalence of undiagnosed sleep apnea we found, it could be recommended that all patients referred for a pacemaker should first be screened for sleep apnea,” Lévy said. “Sleep apnea is known to increase risk of cardiovascular disease.”