Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is the name that doctors use to refer to heart rhythm problems. These occur when the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker, does not keep a regular heartbeat.
People with SSS may have bradycardia, a slow heart rate of
There are other terms that a person may use to refer to SSS,
- bradycardia-tachycardia syndrome
- tachy-brady syndrome
- sinus-node dysfunction
This heart condition can develop at any age, but it tends to affect older adults. The mean average age of people with SSS is
This article explores the symptoms that may appear with SSS, the causes, and the risk factors. It also discusses possible complications, diagnostic tests, and what type of treatment doctors can recommend.
SSS can cause various symptoms, these include:
At first, people with SSS
As people age, their sinus node tissue can thicken or scar, disrupting its electrical impulses. This is the
However, other factors can cause or contribute to SSS, such as receiving damage to the sinus node.
Health conditions that can damage the sinus node include:
- congenital heart abnormalities
- heart failure
- infiltrative diseases of the heart, such as amyloidosis and sarcoidosis
Age is the primary risk factor for SSS. A
Atrial fibrillation episodes
It is important to note that some health conditions
Medical professionals may use the following to make a diagnosis if they suspect SSS:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG checks the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
- Remote cardiac monitoring: A device monitors the heart’s activity for 24 hours. These devices, such as a Holter monitor or event monitor, can tell if a person has an irregular heartbeat. They can also help doctors check if there are any problems in those who have a pacemaker.
- Electrophysiologic study: Specialized cardiologists will insert tiny electrodes through veins into the heart using a catheter to diagnose specific arrhythmias.
- Heart ultrasound: A cardiac ultrasound or echocardiogram can help assess the heart’s function and structures.
Identifying the factors causing or worsening sinus node dysfunction can help doctors determine the best treatment option.
For example, if a person is taking calcium-channel blockers or beta-blockers, a healthcare professional may recommend stopping them if possible, as they can affect the sinus node.
Doctors may also recommend a pacemaker,
Most SSS cases occur as a result of the aging sinus node. So, people do not have a lot of control over preventing the condition from occurring.
There are some tips that a person may follow to help reduce their risk of developing heart problems,
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- learning how to manage stress
- following a healthy diet
- managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels
The CDC also recommends eating fruits and vegetables, reducing alcohol consumption, and following a doctor’s directions when taking medications.
Everyone can benefit from a discussion on preventing heart disease with their doctor. Additionally, people with the following risk factors should discuss them with their doctor:
- low levels of physical activity
- high blood pressure and diabetes
- family history of heart disease
- chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
- arm weakness
- slurred speech
- facial drooping
SSS can progress over the years, and it may not always produce symptoms.
The outlook for SSS is
SSS, or sinus node dysfunction, is a condition that causes the heart to beat slower or faster than usual.
The condition develops due to the degeneration of the heart’s conduction system due to aging, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.
A pacemaker can reduce symptoms in persons with SSS, as without treatment, complications may be possible.
People should call a doctor or the emergency department if symptoms of stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart disease appear, including slurred speech, chest pain, or shortness of breath.