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Volume 15 No. 10
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

The Effect of Positive Airway Pressure Treatment of Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea on the Recurrence of Atrial Fibrillation/Flutter Postintervention

Narat Srivali, MD1; Anwar C. Chahal, MB ChB2; Meghna P. Mansukhani, MD3; Jay Mandrekar, PhD4; Virend K. Somers, MD, PhD2; Sean M. Caples, DO, MS1,3
1Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; 2Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; 3Center for Sleep Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; 4Department of Health Sciences and Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Study Objectives:

A strong association between sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter (AF) has consistently been observed in epidemiologic and interventional studies. The effect of positive airway pressure (PAP) on AF recurrence is inconclusive. This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of PAP therapy for SDB on AF recurrence.


This was a single-center, retrospective study conducted at a tertiary referral center. All adult patients who had SDB on polysomnography and underwent AF intervention (ablation or cardioversion) following polysomnography from January 1992-December 2014 were analyzed. Primary outcome was time to first-documented recurrence of AF after AF intervention by Kaplan–Meier estimates.


Among 30,188 patients with obstructive and central SDB, 429 had this diagnosis before AF intervention; 269 were “PAP-adherent users,” the remaining 160 were “PAP-nonusers.” Patients in both groups had similar age, sex, body mass index (BMI), ejection fraction, left atrial volume index (LAVI), antiarrhythmic medications, diabetes mellitus, systemic hypertension, and heart failure diagnoses. Time to recurrence of AF postintervention was no different in PAP-adherent users and nonusers (4.8 and 4.1 months respectively, P = .7). Cardioversion (compared to catheter ablation) was the strongest independent predictor of recurrent AF (hazard ratio [HR] 2.02, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.39–2.94, P < .001). BMI and LAVI were also significant predictors of recurrence in adjusted analyses (HR 1.01, 95% CI 1.003–1.023, P = .10 and HR 1.01, 95% CI 1.001–1.019, P = .024 respectively).


Our study found no effect of PAP treatment of SDB on time to recurrence of AF post-AF intervention. Increased risk of recurrent AF was associated with high BMI and LAVI. These findings may affect the clinical management of AF.


Srivali N, Chahal AC, Mansukhani MP, Mandrekar J, Somers VK, Caples SM. The effect of positive airway pressure treatment of obstructive and central sleep apnea on the recurrence of atrial fibrillation/flutter postintervention. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(10):1459–1468.

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