WEDNESDAY, June 27, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Sleep disruption consistently predicts risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) before and after adjusting for obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published online June 25 in Heart Rhythm.

Matthew A. Christensen, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues assessed whether poor sleep is a risk factor for AF among participants in the Health eHeart Study (n=4,553) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (n=5,703). A subset of patients underwent polysomnography.

The researchers found that the 526 participants with AF in the Health eHeart Study had more frequent nighttime awakening (odds ratio, 1.47; P = 0.003). Additionally, among the Cardiovascular Health Study participants, who were followed for a median 11.6 years, frequent nighttime awakening predicted a 33 percent greater risk of AF (hazard ratio [HR], 1.33; P < 0.001). Every standard deviation percentage decrease in rapid eye movement sleep was associated with an 18 percent higher risk of developing AF (HR, 1.18; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.00 to 1.38; P = 0.047) in patients with polysomnography.

“Sleep quality itself may be important in the pathogenesis of AF, potentially representing a novel target for prevention,” write the authors.

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