Obstructive Sleep Apnoea as a cause for AF? - AF Association

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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea as a cause for AF?


I get relatively short episodes of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, normally every few days. The cause seems to be an event causing physical or mental stress, but the unusual feature is that all these episodes occur shortly after I wake up from sleep in the middle of the night, even if the precipitating event occurred up to 18 hours earlier.

I notice that the BUPA guide to atrial fibrillation mentions obstructive sleep apnoea as a possible cause. Is it worth asking my doctor whether this might be true in my case.

6 Replies

Hi Bolander

I have had paroxismal AF for more than 10 years ago and was diagnosed with sleep apnoea a couple of months ago. I found out when they were testing to find out why I was breathless. Anyway my apnoea doesn't actually wake my up at all and I was very surprised that I had it . I have always snored (so my husband says). I have no idea which came first. Might be worth asking you GP, if it is like this area there is a long wait for appts.


Yes, there are several members of this forum who have a well documented link between the sleep apnea and their episodes of AF and there is no argument about that link from the medical community. Sleep apnea can have far reaching effects and increase your risk for stroke, heart problems, diabetes, and obesity. Absolutely worth getting check out! Good luck!

in reply to SRMGrandma

Thanks to you and mumknows best for the prompt replies. It's this kind of advice from people's own experienes that I was hoping for. I shall certainly ask my GP to consider this as a possibility.


I have both permanent AF and sleep apnoea. There seems to be some relationship between the two but it is a chicken and the egg situation. My cardio was aware of this but it is not confirmed which of the two could be a trigger.

What I do know is that I do not get apnoea symptoms during the day despite having AF. At night very much so but only when I sleep. I have been tested. I use an APAP machine and a mask to prevent this (still have AF). A chest consultant explained that the Apnoea occurred due to relaxation of the neck muscles and tongue during sleep. With the airways partially blocking and impeding breathing. My machine forces air past these obstructions resulting in a good nights sleep.

You need to think of these ailments as separate entities that need different treatments. Do not underestimate sleep apnoea it can cause poor sleep with low energy levels and lack of concentration.

I an not medical but I have spent some time trying to understanding my conditions.



I also had Paroxysmal A Fib, had an ablation 4 months ago which at this stage, has worked very well. I had all sorts of tests to find out what actually caused it. In the end my EP couldn't find anything but did say that over 90% of his patients had sleep apnea and he was very surprised when I didn't test positive so I believe the link is very strong indeed.

in reply to johncb

That's very interesting - I've booked a GP appointment so I'll definitely mention what your EP said then


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