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Pulmonary Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 621736, 11 pages
Review Article

The Relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Atrial Fibrillation: A Complex Interplay

Department of Medicine, New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, The Tufts Cardiovascular Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Received 6 November 2012; Revised 15 January 2013; Accepted 24 January 2013

Academic Editor: Francisco García Río

Copyright © 2013 Jacqueline M. Latina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In recent years, growing evidence suggests an association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common sleep breathing disorder which is increasing in prevalence as the obesity epidemic surges, and atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia. AF is a costly public health problem increasing a patient’s risk of stroke, heart failure, and all-cause mortality. It remains unclear whether the association is based on mutual risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, or whether OSA is an independent risk factor and causative in nature. This paper explores the pathophysiology of OSA which may predispose to AF, clinical implications of stroke risk in this cohort who display overlapping disease processes, and targeted treatment strategies such as continuous positive airway pressure and AF ablation.