It is estimated that 2.7 to 6.7 million people have Afib. There are 25 million people living with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. One percent of the patients in my office have both conditions.
The Afib/OSA Profile
My typical patient is a middle-aged person. Both men and women can have Afib and OSA. Many patients complain that they have an irregular heartbeat, night sweats and cannot sleep. Some patients also show up exhibiting symptoms of sleep apnea, such as shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and lightheadedness. Additionally, it is common for women with sleep apnea to have a neck circumference of 16 inches and men to have a neck circumference of 17 inches.
AFIB And The Heart
AFIB is a type of arrhythmia that causes the top and bottom chambers of the heart to beat out of sync. People who have AFIB are four to five times more likely to have a stroke. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of ischemic strokes are caused by AFIB.
What Do OSA And AFIB Have In Common?
OSA often occurs during midlife and older age. It causes frequent interruptions in breathing. A person can stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds. OSA can cause increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. These are the same symptoms that a person with Afib may experience.
What Should I Do?
Both OSA and AFIB are very treatable. You should see your primary care doctor if you notice palpitations and an irregular heartbeat. Make sure you tell your doctor if you snore or have morning headaches. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Dr. Steven Greenman, DDS is Diplomate of the AADSM and an experienced sleep apnea dentist located in Westlake Village, CA.