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American Heart Association Panel Led by Cleveland Clinic Researchers Recommends More Research Into Sleep-disordered Breathing, Cardiac Arrhythmias

Experts state conducting more research on heart arrhythmia and sleep-disordered breathing can help clarify how to treat or prevent both widespread conditions.

08/22/2022




The American Heart Association issued a statement earlier this month recommending research into how sleep-disordered breathing can affect heart arrhythmia. 

An expert panel, led by two Cleveland clinic physician-scientists, urged larger, randomized trials to explore the association already seen in observational studies. There is significant evidence that sleep-disordered breathing, which includes multiple types of sleep apnea, can place stress on the body that alters the nervous system and cardiac structure and function, according to the statement. 

“These findings have not been confirmed in randomized controlled clinical trials, although trials to date have been limited by modest sample size, inadequate power, short duration of follow-up, or patient selection,” the statement reads. “Sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep disruptions, and SDB each may be important in the pathogenesis of arterial fibrillation (AF), potentially representing a novel target for preventing occurrence, recurrence, and progression of AF.” 

Published in Circulation, the statement outlines research questions including whether sleep-breathing disorders can help predict heart arrythmia, including atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrythmia in the U.S. and it is estimated more than 12.1 million in the U.S. will have atrial fibrillation by 2030, according to the CDC. 

Risk factors for sleep-disordered breathing and heart arrythmia seem to overlap significantly, including obesity and age. Learning more about the association between the conditions can help inform screening procedures and whether treating sleep-disordered breathing can help prevent heart arrythmia, the panel wrote. 

“The association of sleep apnea and obesity with atrial fibrillation has made identification and treatment of sleep-disordered breathing and weight loss an important part of lifestyle and risk factor reduction in the treatment of atrial fibrillation,” says Mina Chung, MD, panel vice-chair and staff in the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. 

Reena Mehra, MD, MS, the Director of Research at Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, chaired the panel that developed the statement.  

Read more on ConsultQD. 




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