Understanding Sick Sinus Syndrome

Sick sinus syndrome is a term used for a group of different heart problems involving the sinus node. The sinus node is the heart’s natural pacemaker. It is an area located in the upper right chamber of the heart that is composed of specialized cells that function as a heart rhythm regulator. With the sinus node not working properly will lead to heart rhythm problems.

Causes of sick sinus syndrome

The sinus node produces the electrical impulses that triggers the heart to beat. The impulses then travel across the atria and into the ventricles to cause the heart to contract and expand, thereby pumping blood out to the other organs in the body. The normal sinus node can control the heart to beat on an average of 60 to 100 beats a minute.

When the sinus node functions improperly, the heart rate may either go too slow or too fast. One cause may be a certain disease or condition that may lead to scarring or damage to the heart’s electrical system. Scars on the heart, usually acquired from previous surgeries may also cause the sinus node to function improperly.

Sick sinus syndrome may also be triggered by certain medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Age-related wear and tear of the heart may also cause the condition especially in old people.

Symptoms of sick sinus syndrome

The symptoms shown may depend on the type of malfunction happening to the sinus node. A sinus node signal can either be blocked, can pause temporarily or even send different signals that can make the heart beat alternately at slow and fast paces. Many people with sick sinus syndrome usually show few symptoms or even nothing at all. The symptoms may also come and go.

What symptoms that do appear are usually due to the improper functioning of the heart as it distributes the blood supply that affects the other organs and functions of the body. Some of the notable symptoms include, dizziness, fatigue, chest pains, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

How sick sinus syndrome is diagnosed?

Proper diagnosis of sick sinus syndrome is primarily done by taking electrocardiogram or ECG tests. These tests measure and record the heartbeat as well as show doctors the typical heartbeat and heart rhythm patterns that may indicate sick sinus syndrome.

How to treat sick sinus syndrome?

Treatment for sick sinus syndrome may depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If the primary cause is due to the use of certain medications, doctors would likely adjust or even suggest changes in medication to treat sick sinus syndrome. For other cases, an artificial pacemaker may be used to help maintain a regular heartbeat.