Atrial fibrillation, a chaotic and irregular arrhythmia, is occasionally encountered in clinical practice alongside sleep apnoea, a form of sleep-disordered breathing. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the link remain ambiguous. Together, these two conditions seem to be mutually reinforcing and significantly interfere with an individual’s quality of life.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia faced by clinicians worldwide, whilst sleep apnoea is becoming increasingly prevalent. It is important for medical students to be clinically aware of the relationship between the two as therapeutic rehabilitation of one may reduce the severity of the other and improve overall prognosis in patients who suffer from both.
Take Home Messages
Further research is needed to explore the synergistic relationship between atrial fibrillation and sleep apnoea and the likelihood of one complicating into the other. However, it is important to be aware of this link as it is often missed in practice, leading to deterioration of symptoms and patient anxiety.