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BackgroundIn this study, we sought to estimate the prevalence of concomitant sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and to systematically evaluate how SDB is assessed in this population.MethodsWe searched Medline, Embase and Cinahl databases through August 2020 for studies reporting on SDB in a minimum 100 patients with AF. For quantitative analysis, studies were required to have systematically assessed for SDB in consecutive AF patients. Pooled prevalence estimates were calculated with the use of the random effects model. Weighted mean differences and odds ratios were calculated when possible to assess the strength of association between baseline characteristics and SDB.ResultsThe search yielded 2758 records, of which 33 studies (n = 23,894 patients) met the inclusion criteria for qualitative synthesis and 13 studies (n = 2660 patients) met the meta-analysis criteria. The pooled SDB prevalence based on an SDB diagnosis cutoff of apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 5/h was 78% (95% confidence interval [CI] 70%-86%; P < 0.001). For moderate-to-severe SDB (AHI ≥ 15/h), the pooled SDB prevalence was 40% (95% CI 32%-48%; P < 0.001). High degrees of heterogeneity were observed (I2 = 96% and 94%, respectively; P < 0.001). Sleep testing with the use of poly(somno)graphy or oximetry was the most common assessment tool used (in 22 studies, 66%) but inconsistent diagnostic thresholds were used.ConclusionsSDB is highly prevalent in patients with AF. Wide variation exists in the diagnostic tools and thresholds used to detect concomitant SDB in AF. Prospective systematic testing for SDB in unselected cohorts of AF patients may be required to define the true prevalence of SDB in this population.

Original publication




Journal article


The Canadian journal of cardiology

Publication Date





1846 - 1856


Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders, University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia.


Humans, Sleep Apnea Syndromes, Atrial Fibrillation, Oximetry, Polysomnography, Morbidity, Survival Rate, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Global Health