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Arrhythmia Risk High in Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Those with sleep condition have up to fourfold risk of abnormal heart rhythms

MONDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Complex nocturnal arrhythmias are two to four times more likely in people who have severe sleep-disordered breathing, according to a study in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., of the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and colleagues analyzed data from two samples of participants in the Sleep Heart Health Study who were matched on age, sex, race/ethnicity and body mass index. The groups comprised 228 people with sleep-disordered breathing (a respiratory disturbance index of 30 or above) and 338 people without sleep-disordered breathing (a respiratory disturbance index of less than five).

In people with sleep-disordered breathing, atrial fibrillation, non-sustained ventricular tachycardia and complex ventricular ectopy were more common than in those without sleep-disordered breathing. The odds of atrial fibrillation were four times higher in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing, and three times higher for non-sustained ventricular tachycardia. The odds of complex ventricular ectopy were almost doubled.

"Our findings also may help explain the epidemic of atrial fibrillation, because increasing sleep-disordered breathing prevalence from increasing obesity may explain a portion of the unexplained rise in atrial fibrillation," the authors write.

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