A rare case of REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome with concomitant severe hypertension: a case report and a review of literature
Gabrielius Jakutis
Vytautas Juknevičius
Juratė Barysienė
Dalia Matačiūnienė
Birutė Petrauskienė
Žaneta Petrulionienė
Aleksandras Laucevičius
Published 2018-05-14


rapid eye movement sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome
autonomic nervous system

How to Cite

Jakutis G., Juknevičius V., Barysienė J., Matačiūnienė D., Petrauskienė B., Petrulionienė Žaneta and Laucevičius A. (2018) “A rare case of REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome with concomitant severe hypertension: a case report and a review of literature”, Acta medica Lituanica, 25(1), pp. 1-6. doi: 10.6001/actamedica.v25i1.3697.


Introduction. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome is characterized by pathological asystoles during the REM sleep phase. It is a rare rhythm disorder, being reported only few times in the literature. Due to non-specific symptoms, REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia might be often underdiagnosed. Other cardiac diseases associated with pathological sinus arrests must be excluded to establish the correct diagnosis of and appropriate therapy for REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia. We report a case of this syndrome followed by hypertension and diastolic heart failure. The case. A 49-year-old male with severe hypertension presented for a cardiologist’s consultation. His main complaints were palpitations, fatigue, dyspnoea, and snoring. Polysomnography test revealed a normal sleep structure with episodes of bradycardia and increased parasympathetic activity during phasic events of REM sleep. Heart rate variability Poincare plot analysis demonstrated similar results. REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome was diagnosed and patient was treated with dual chamber heart pacemaker implantation. Discussion. Various components of the autonomic nervous system influence the development of REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome. The main factor is likely an increased vagal tone during the phasic REM sleep with the absence of normal compensatory sympathetic activity. Concomitant hypertension in REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome is caused by a paradoxically abnormal control of the autonomic nervous system and can be explained through the acetylcholine metabolism pathway. Best suited diagnostic and treatment options for REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome are discussed. Conclusions. Patients with REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome often present with indistinct symptoms. Polysomnography is an essential diagnostic test for the differential diagnosis of various nocturnal arrhythmias and sleep disorders. Severe hypertension is a common complication of sleep disorders and requires appropriate treatment of the underlying condition. An implantation of a heart pacemaker is the first-choice treatment for patients with REM sleep-related bradyarrhythmia syndrome.
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