Sleep Apnea Increases Risk Of Sudden Cardiac Death

Is surgery the only option for treating sleep apnea or snoring

I do predominantly the line share of sleep apnea surgery in our department. I collaborate closely with the pulmonologists, who are the sleep medicine s. Those are the s that help diagnose and treat sleep apnea, as well. If those patients fail their, their medical or their conservative therapy, that's typically when they get sent to see me for surgical considerations to, to look at potential cures for their apnea. It's not uncommon for me to see a lot of patients for, who come in for snoring complaints and, you know, are wondering whether or not they have sleep apnea. So sleep apnea is condition where you actually stop breathing at night.

Snoring is somewhere on that spectrum, towards the more mild, you know, milder end of that spectrum. But, you know, really the only way to determine if you have sleep apnea, the gold standard of testing, is really getting a sleep study. And that's an overnight, monitored study where patients, you know, sleep in a room that's similar to a hotel room but they're being monitored and they're hooked up, you know, for sound so to speak with different monitors and cables on them. And that's really our best test to diagnose sleep apnea. The treatment for sleep apnea is typically a nonsurgical therapy; something called CPAP,

which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. And it's the patients that don't tolerate their CPAP who end up seeing me for surgical considerations. And there's a number of reasons why patients may not tolerate their CPAP. But there are some surgeries that can be helpful in patients who are not tolerant of their medical therapy. And I offer a variety of surgeries including nasal surgery, a variety of palatal surgeries for the kind of tonsil and soft pallet region and then also a variety of tonguebased procedures, as well. But we typically see a patient back after their procedure in about three weeks to recheck everything, make sure that they're healing okay.

After that, I normally recheck a sleep study in about three months after their surgery, just to give everything a chance to heal and to scar. And we, you know, make further recommendations based on the result of their followup sleep study after their surgery. We're exploring the, a new technology now which is actually a nerve stimulator for sleep apnea. It's an implantable device, very similar to a pacemaker that goes into the patient's chest. And there's an electrode that will actually stimulate the nerve that goes to the tongue to provide the tongue with a little bit of more tone when they're sleeping at night, and thereby eliminating their sleep apnea.

2015 Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference Managing AF Risk Factors Panel

Wilber: Well thank you. This is really,I think, a topic that I look forward to talking to people about and I think more and moreit's assuming increasing importance in how we take care of patients. We're going to tryto do a broad overview. We're going to focus specifically on diabetes, sleep apnea andexercise as 00:00:30 potential risk factors and how they can be modified in our care ofpatients with atrial fibrillation, but we'll try to give your broad overview of some ofthe other topics as well. So although I'm going to mostly talk about obesity today andatrial fibrillation, we'll talk about a couple of other things as well.

There are a variety of risk factors for atrialfibrillation and this was initially, I think, mostly of interest to epidemiologists, peoplewho study how disease, what the prevalence of it is, and how it comes to pass. I thinknow we've really begun to understand that central role, not only in sort of understandingthe disease but really in treating it, and if we don't consider these as we treat patientsthen I think our outcomes are not nearly as good as they might be otherwise. This is the traditional list and I think thereare probably even a few more. I've starred a few of them where I think that the evidencenow is becoming very clear that these are

potentially modifiable and that's really whatI want you to take home today. These aren't static risk factors that cause something andthen there's nothing you can do about it but treat the consequences, but in fact by intervening,both early and late, you have a chance to modify the disease and improve outcomes. What that means for you as patients is thatyou have to participate in your care and that's really something I want to emphasize; andif you're not invited to do so, then you must insist on doing it. Because I think your outcomesfor atrial fibrillation really depend on how you address each of these risk factors asthey apply to you individually.

Just to briefly talk about hypertension; wewon't spend a lot of time. It's certainly important; it's one of the most common riskfactors associated with atrial fibrillation. Somewhere between 60% and 80% of patientswho have atrial fibrillation in large populations studies have at least hypertension as a riskfactor, and by itself may account for the 20% to 25% of the overall risk of new onsetatrial fibrillation. There's some evidence that systolic bloodpressure probably plays a more important role than diastolic blood pressure, but there'sno clear threshold value. When you look in large population studies, each increment insystolic blood pressure is associated with

the increasing risk of atrial fibrillation.There's no sort of magic number necessarily that if you get below, your risk of atrialfibrillation goes away. It's probably reasonable and what I like to use as a therapeutic targetis somewhere around below 13080. What that means is that that's even below the sort oftraditional guidelines for treatment of hypertension, but it's very clear that even mild elevationsof blood pressure within the range of what we would call normal can still confer afibrisk. There's no clear superiority of one drug overanother although the control of atrial fibrillation certainly can improve the symptoms and thefrequency with which you have atrial fibrillation.

It's not clear that any single drug is absolutelybetter. There's some evidence that ACE inhibitors and ARBs, which are drugs that many of youmay be on to treat your hypertension, may be particularly beneficial, particularly whenyou have relatively advanced hypertension with end organ involvement like thickeningof the heart muscle, the left ventricular hypertrophy, as we call it. But there's also evidence that uncontrolledhypertension as you start antiarrhythmic drug treatment and after catheter ablation, ifyou enter into that with poorly controlled blood pressure, in fact, you have much pooreroutcomes than if your blood pressure is controlled.

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