Effect of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment on Atrial Fibrillation Recurrence: A Meta-Analysis

JACC Clin Electrophysiol. 2015 Mar-Apr;1(1-2):41-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jacep.2015.02.014. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the cumulative effect of treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) on atrial fibrillation (AF) recurrence.

Background: OSA is a known predictor for onset and recurrence of AF. The effect of treatment with CPAP on AF recurrence has been evaluated in small studies with varied outcomes.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Google Scholar, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Cochrane Trials Register for relevant studies. Evaluation of AF recurrence in CPAP users and nonusers in patients with OSA was the primary outcome evaluated in this study. The secondary outcome was evaluation of AF recurrence in CPAP users and nonusers after pulmonary vein isolation (PVI).

Results: Seven prospective cohort studies with a total of 1,087 patients met the inclusion criteria. Across all patient groups, the use of CPAP was associated with a significant reduction in AF recurrence (relative risk: 0.58, 95% confidence interval: 0.51 to 0.67; heterogeneity chi-square p = 0.91, I2 = 0%). The beneficial effect of CPAP use was statistically significant in both groups of patients: those who underwent catheter ablation with PVI and those who did not undergo ablation and were managed medically. No other study covariates had any significant association with these outcomes of AF reduction.

Conclusions: The use of CPAP is associated with significant reduction in recurrence of AF in patients with OSA. This effect remains consistent and similar across patient populations irrespective of whether they undergo PVI.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; continuous positive airway pressure; obstructive sleep apnea; recurrence.