Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Obesity, and the Risk of Incident Atrial Fibrillation

Apoor S. Gami, Dave O. Hodge, Regina M. Herges, Eric J. Olson, Jiri Nykodym, Tomas Kara, Virend K. Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

697 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to identify whether obesity and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) independently predict incident atrial fibrillation/flutter (AF). Background: Obesity is a risk factor for AF, and OSA is highly prevalent in obesity. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with AF, but it is unknown whether OSA predicts new-onset AF independently of obesity. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 3,542 Olmsted County adults without past or current AF who were referred for an initial diagnostic polysomnogram from 1987 to 2003. New-onset AF was assessed and confirmed by electrocardiography during a mean follow-up of 4.7 years. Results: Incident AF occurred in 133 subjects (cumulative probability 14%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9% to 19%). Univariate predictors of AF were age, male gender, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, smoking, body mass index, OSA (hazard ratio 2.18, 95% CI 1.34 to 3.54) and multiple measures of OSA severity. In subjects <65 years old, independent predictors of incident AF were age, male gender, coronary artery disease, body mass index (per 1 kg/m2, hazard ratio 1.07, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.10), and the decrease in nocturnal oxygen saturation (per 0.5 U log change, hazard ratio 3.29, 95% CI 1.35 to 8.04). Heart failure, but neither obesity nor OSA, predicted incident AF in subjects ≥65 years of age. Conclusions: Obesity and the magnitude of nocturnal oxygen desaturation, which is an important pathophysiological consequence of OSA, are independent risk factors for incident AF in individuals <65 years of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-571
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 6 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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