“Early detection of atrial fibrillation is very important since oral anticoagulants are extremely effective for stroke prevention in these patients,” said Chaturvedi, who is Chief of Neurology at the Miami VA Medical Center, working closely with Douglas Wallace, M.D., Director of the Sleep Lab at the Miami VA Medical Center.
Co-investigators on the study include Saleem Dib, M.D., assistant professor of clinical neurology, Alberto Ramos, M.D., assistant professor of clinical neurology, Alexandre R. Abreu, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and Director of the UHealth Sleep Center, and Juan Viles-Gonzalez, M.D., assistant professor of medicine.
The research team plans to recruit 200 sleep apnea patients for the study, “Arrhythmia Detection In Obstructive Sleep apnea (ADIOS),” which is funded by a $370,000 grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.
“Our hypothesis is that at least 5 percent of obstructive sleep apnea patients will also have irregular heartbeats,” he said. “Our study seeks to examine the frequency and the predictors of atrial fibrillation in this patient group.”
Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive interruption of normal breathing during sleep. It affects an estimated 15 million adults, including many patients with hypertension and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Obesity and male gender are recognized risk factors for the presence of sleep-disordered breathing.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is also a recognized risk factor for ischemic stroke,” said Chaturvedi, noting that it is present in up to 50 percent of patients with atrial fibrillation. “However, little focus has been devoted to modifying potential stroke risk factors in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.”
Providing anticoagulation medications to patients who have both atrial fibrillation and obstructive sleep apnea represents a significant opportunity for primary stroke prevention, since these medications can reduce the risk of stroke by 60 to 70 percent, Chaturvedi said. Oral anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation include warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban.
Patients with a new diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in the past year who are interested in participating in the study can contact Digna Cabral at 305-243-9283.
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