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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: January 2013

Chapter 12 - Restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movements in sleep, and vascular risk factors


Anecdotal recognition of the relationship between sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation has recently given way to more rigorous observational data. The risk of recurrence after atrial fibrillation interventions has also been studied longitudinally. There are numerous pathophysiological mechanisms that may link sleep apnea to atrial fibrillation. One of the most important mechanisms may be the significant changes, both acute and chronic, in autonomic tone that occur with obstructive apneas. Most observational data suggest that the success rates of atrial fibrillation interventions, such as cardioversions and ablation, are significantly improved for patients whose sleep apnea is treated. Epidemiological studies suggest that sleep apnea is a risk factor for new-onset atrial fibrillation, and that its presence reflects a poorer prognosis after atrial fibrillation interventions. Randomized controlled trials are necessary to clarify the effects of sleep apnea therapy on atrial fibrillation outcomes in individuals and communities.


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