I’m Having AFib at Night: Should I Be Worried?

The short answer from a cardiovascular researcher
Person laying in bed looking concerned

Q: I’m experiencing AFib at night. Should I be worried?

A: It’s not uncommon for atrial fibrillation (AFib) to occur at night. The nerves that control your heart rate typically are in sleep mode, and that’s when your resting heart rate drops. Under these conditions, pacemaker activity from areas other than the normal pacemaker in the heart can trigger the onset of AFib.

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In addition, many patients with AFib have an underlying issue of obstructive or central sleep apnea. If you are frequently sleepy during the daytime, that is especially likely to be the case. If you suffer from AFib, sleep apnea can disrupt the heart’s rhythms. This is a dangerous combination

To help treat sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other devices that may help to reduce the frequency and burden of AFib. 

— Researcher David Van Wagoner, PhD

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