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Clinical Investigations: SLEEP AND BREATHING |

Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders Are Associated With Ventricular Arrhythmias in Patients With an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator*

Joachim Fichter, MD, PhD; Dirk Bauer, MD; Spyridon Arampatzis, MD; Roland Fries, MD; Armin Heisel, MD, PhD; Gerhard Walter Sybrecht, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Internal Medicine V (Drs. Fichter, Bauer, Arampatzis, and Sybrecht), and the Department of Internal Medicine III (Drs. Fries and Heisel), Universitätskliniken des Saarlandes, Homburg/Saar, Germany.

Correspondence to: Joachim Fichter, MD, PhD, Paracelsus Hospital, Am Natruper Holz 69, 49076 Osnabrueck, Germany; e-mail: j.fichter@t-online.de



Chest. 2002;122(2):558-561. doi:10.1378/chest.122.2.558
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Study objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the influence of sleep-related breathing disorders (SBDs) on the occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and life-threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmias treated with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Patients: Thirty-eight patients with LVEF of 36 ± 13% (mean ± SD) underwent a sleep study. When an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) > 10/h occurred, SBD was diagnosed.

Measurements and results: In patients with SBDs, ventricular arrhythmias (couplets, triplets, short runs) were recorded simultaneously by Holter ECG and differentiated in episodes with and without disordered breathing. An apnea-associated arrhythmia index (AI) was defined as the number of ventricular arrhythmias occurring simultaneous to disordered breathing. Accordingly, a nonapnea-associated arrhythmia index (NAI) was calculated as the number of ventricular arrhythmias during normal breathing. SBDs were diagnosed in 14 patients: Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR) [n = 8; AHI, 32.1 ± 25.0/h], and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) [n = 6; AHI, 34.1 ± 14.6/h]. Four patients in the OSA group and four patients in the CSR group had ventricular arrhythmias during sleep, revealed by Holter ECG. In these eight patients, the AI was significantly higher than the NAI (20.9 ± 18.8/h vs 4.9 ± 3.3/h, respectively).

Conclusions: These data show that ventricular arrhythmias occurred significantly more often in association with disordered breathing in patients at high risk for arrhythmias and reduced LVEF.

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