Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is highly prevalent in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients and associated with reduced response to rhythm control strategies. However, there is no practical guidance on testing for OSA in AF patients and for OSA treatment implementation. We sought to evaluate current practices and identify challenges of OSA management in AF. A descriptive cross-sectional study was performed with a content-validated survey to evaluate OSA management in AF by healthcare practitioners. Survey review, editing, and dissemination occurred via the European Heart Rhythm Association and the Association of Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions and direct contact with arrhythmia centres. In total, 186 responses were collected. OSA-related symptoms were ranked as the most important reason to test for OSA in AF patients. The majority (67.7%) indicated that cardiologists perform ‘ad-hoc’ referrals. Only 11.3% initiated systematic testing by home sleep test or respiratory polygraphy and in addition, 10.8% had a structured OSA assessment pathway in place at the cardiology department. Only 6.7% of the respondents indicated that they test >70% of their AF patients for OSA as a component of rhythm control therapy. Various barriers were reported: no established collaboration between cardiology and sleep clinic (35.6%); lack in skills and knowledge (23.6%); lack of financial (23.6%) and personnel-related resources (21.3%). Structured testing for OSA occurs in the minority of AF patients. Centres apply varying methods. There is an urgent need for increased awareness and standardized pathways to allow OSA testing and treatment integration in the management of AF.
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