Impact of CPAP on the atrial fibrillation substrate in obstructive sleep apnea: the SLEEP-AF Study

Chrishan J. Nalliah, Geoffrey R. Wong, Geoffrey Lee, Aleksandr Voskoboinik, Kirk Kee, Jeremy Goldin, Troy Watts, Dominik Linz, Ramanathan Parameswaran, Hariharan Sugumar, Sandeep Prabhu, Alex McLellan, Liang Han Ling, Stephen A. Joseph, Joseph B. Morton, Peter Kistler, Prashanthan Sanders, Jonathan M. Kalman

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Observational studies report that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with an increasingly remodeled atrial substrate in atrial fibrillation (AF). However, the impact of OSA management on the electrophysiologic substrate has not been evaluated. Objectives: In this study, the authors sought to determine the impact of OSA management on the atrial substrate in AF. Methods: We recruited 24 consecutive patients referred for AF management with at least moderate OSA (apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] ≥15). Participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to commence continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or no therapy (n = 12 CPAP; n = 12 no CPAP). All participants underwent invasive electrophysiologic study (high-density right atrial mapping) at baseline and after a minimum of 6 months. Outcome variables were atrial voltage (mV), conduction velocity (m/s), atrial surface area <0.5 mV (%), proportion of complex points (%), and atrial effective refractory periods (ms). Change between groups over time was compared. Results: Clinical characteristics and electrophysiologic parameters were similar between groups at baseline. Compliance with CPAP therapy was high (device usage: 79% ± 19%; mean usage/day: 268 ± 91 min) and resulted in significant AHI reduction (mean reduction: 31 ± 23 events/h). There were no differences in blood pressure or body mass index between groups over time. At follow-up, the CPAP group had faster conduction velocity (0.86 ± 0.16 m/s vs 0.69 ± 0.12 m/s; P (time × group) = 0.034), significantly higher voltages (2.30 ± 0.57 mV vs 1.94 ± 0.72 mV; P < 0.05), and lower proportion of complex points (8.87% ± 3.61% vs 11.93% ± 4.94%; P = 0.011) compared with the control group. CPAP therapy also resulted in a trend toward lower proportion of atrial surface area <0.5 mV (1.04% ± 1.41% vs 4.80% ± 5.12%; P = 0.065). Conclusions: CPAP therapy results in reversal of atrial remodeling in AF and provides mechanistic evidence advocating for management of OSA in AF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-877
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • atrial fibrillation
  • continuous positive airway therapy
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • reverse atrial remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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