December 2016: This article has been update: Go directlly to: Sleep Apnea: Home Testing with WatchPAT Device and the Philips Respironics
At least 49% of all patients with A-Fib suffer from Sleep Apnea as well. With untreated Sleep Apnea, you have a greater chance of a more severe form of A-Fib and increased risk of recurrence after a successful catheter ablation.
Everyone with A-Fib should be tested for sleep apnea. Traditionally this has involved an overnight stay in the sleep lab.
But now there’s an alternative! You can test at home with the WatchPAT™ device.
The WatchPAT™ is an FDA-approved wrist-worn sleep study device you can use in the comfort of your own bedroom to determine if you have sleep apnea. (PAT is short for Peripheral Arterial Tonometry [pressure measurement].)
Multiple studies have shown there is a high correlation of the WatchPAT with sleep indexes such as the respiratory disturbance index (RDI) and the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), compared with the same indexes measured by the normal sleep test PSG.
If you think you may have untreated Sleep Apnea: read my full review.
At least 43% of patients with Atrial Fibrillation suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as well.
Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
A-Fib anD Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea
It is now established that there’s a correlation between Sleep Apnea and A-Fib.
If you have untreated Sleep Apnea, you are a greater risk of having a more severe form of A-Fib or of not benefiting from an A-Fib treatment .
For example, after a successful catheter ablation, patients with untreated sleep apnea have a greater chance for recurrence of their A-Fib.
The In-Lab Sleep Study
In the standard lab test for sleep apnea, you go to a hospital-like room, put on cumbersome sensors, then try to go to sleep in this unfamiliar environment. And this test isn’t cheap ($1100-$2,000).
It requires extensive monitoring to measure airflow, chest/abdominal movements, electromyography, electrocardiography, and oxygen saturation levels. The formal name for this test is polysomnography (PSG).
At Home Sleep Tests (HST)
A home sleep test (HST), also called ‘Unattended Sleep Study’, is a sleep study tool that is used for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Most HST devices are portable —about the size of a telephone handset. A home sleep test is more affordable at $250-$300.
Itamar Medical’s WatchPAT™
The WatchPAT is an FDA-approved wrist-worn sleep study device you can use in the comfort of your own bedroom to determine if you have sleep apnea. (PAT is short for Peripheral Arterial Tonometry [pressure measurement].)
It assesses respiratory disturbances and indirectly detects sleep apnea by measuring volume changes in the peripheral arteries along with pulse oximetry (oxygen desaturation) and respiratory arousals. (When you have sleep apnea, your breathing often stops till you have to gasp for breath. This is called “respiratory arousal.”)
Another HST is the Philips Respironics Alice NightOne, an FDA-cleared Type III device. It features a belt that goes around your chest with a nasal cannula (short two-prong nose tube) which you place in your nostrils and a Pulse Oximeter which you wear on your finger. Read more about the Philips Respironic Alice NightOne at SingularSleep.com.
Other HSTs include Ares by Watermark and ResMed’s ApneaLink™ Plus.
How to Choose a Home Sleep Test Provider
According to Dr. Joseph Krainin, founder of SingularSleep.com, it’s important your interpreting physician review the entire record to make sure of the proper diagnosis.
Insist that your interpreting physician be a fellowship-trained, board certified sleep physician (who has one full year of training in sleep medicine and passed a rigorous national examination).
Before signing up with a HST provider, make sure to ask how long it will take to get results. And if your first encounters with a company’s customer service isn’t first-rate, steer clear of this provider.
Note: Dr. Joseph Krainin offers online sleep doctor telemedicine consultations.
What Patients need to know
Everyone with A-Fib should be tested for sleep apnea. It’s now available at a fraction of the cost of an in-lab sleep study ($250-$300 vs. $1100-$2,000). And it’s convenient (especially if being away from home overnight is problematic). Talk to your EP. With OSA home testing now available, there is no excuse for not doing a sleep study.
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Last updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2016