Rationale: Although research supports a sleep-disordered breathing and atrial fibrillation association, prospective data examining sleep-disordered breathing predicting incident atrial fibrillation are lacking.
Objectives: To investigate sleep-disordered breathing indices as predictors of incident atrial fibrillation.
Methods: A cohort (n = 843) of ambulatory older men without prevalent atrial fibrillation was assessed for baseline sleep indices: apnea-hypopnea index, central sleep apnea (central apnea index, ≥5 vs. <5), central sleep apnea or Cheyne-Stokes respiration, obstructive apnea-hypopnea index, and percentage of sleep time with less than 90% oxygen saturation. Incident clinically symptomatic adjudicated or self-reported atrial fibrillation outcome was ascertained (mean follow-up, 6.5 ± 0.7 yr). We used logistic regression models adjusted for age, race, body mass index, cardiopulmonary disease, alcohol use, pacemaker, cholesterol, cardiac medications, and alternate apnea type for obstructive and central apnea. Age interaction terms and median age-stratified analyses were performed.
Measurements and main results: Central sleep apnea (odds ratio [OR], 2.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-5.66) and Cheyne-Stokes respiration with central sleep apnea (OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.13-4.56), but not obstructive apnea or hypoxemia, predicted incident atrial fibrillation. Central apnea, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, and sleep-disordered breathing-age interaction terms were significant (P < 0.05). Unlike the case with younger participants, among participants aged 76 years or older (albeit with small atrial fibrillation counts), atrial fibrillation was related to central apnea (OR, 9.97; 95% CI, 2.72-36.50), Cheyne-Stokes respiration with central apnea (OR, 6.31; 95% CI, 1.94-20.51), and apnea-hypopnea index (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.08-1.39 [per 5-unit increase]).
Conclusions: In older men, central apnea and Cheyne-Stokes respiration predicted increased atrial fibrillation risk, with findings being strongest in older participants in whom overall sleep-disordered breathing also increased atrial fibrillation risk.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; cohort study; sleep-disordered breathing.