In this article, I’m discuss obstructive sleep apnea and Afib. If you have Afib, the likelihood you also have sleep apnea is as high as 50%.
Sleep apnea and Afib commonly go together.
About half of people with Afib also have sleep apnea. The reason this is so important is that treating sleep apnea can decrease your Afib, or potentially even cure it.
While over 30 million people in the world have Afib, with the numbers increasing at epidemic levels, sleep apnea is even more common. There are estimates that almost 1 billion people have sleep apnea, with up to 80% of those people not knowing they have it.
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What is sleep apnea?
People with sleep apnea experience a blockage in the airway or stop breathing during sleep.
Sleep apnea is not just associated with Afib.
Having sleep apnea not only impairs sleep quality, but it also is associated with several heart problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart artery disease (coronary artery disease)
- Heart failure
- Sudden death
- And as mentioned, Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)
Those who are at higher risk for sleep apnea
Those who are at higher risk for sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight
- Age greater than 50 years
- Large neck size (over 16 inches or 40 cm)
Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
If you have Afib or are otherwise concerned you may have sleep apnea, what should you look for? The most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Choking, gasping or stop breathing during sleep
- Being sleepy during the day
- Waking up not feeling rested
- Morning headaches
I ask all of my patients with Afib if they have any symptoms of sleep apnea, and especially for those who have a high risk, I have a low threshold for referring them for screening for sleep apnea. The reason I do this is because there is research evidence, and my clinical experience shows treating sleep apnea can improve or even cure Afib.
How to find out if you have sleep apnea
If you are wondering if you have sleep apnea, you can use the STOP-BANG questionnaire to assess your risk for sleep apnea. And if you are concerned you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about whether a screening test for sleep apnea is a good idea for you.
It may improve or cure your Afib, lower your blood pressure, and your risk for other serious heart issues, and you may feel better as well.