Sick sinus syndrome is a general term for a group of the problems related to the heart rhythm in which the sinus node does not function properly. The sinus node is a natural pacemaker of the heart. It is located in the right atrium of the heart and is made of specialized cells that have the role to control the rhythm of the heart. When the sinus node is normal and healthy, it creates a steady pace of regular electrical impulses. On the other side, sick sinus node does not produce normal pace of the electrical impulses. Therefore, people with this condition have alternating slow or fast heart rhythms. Sick sinus node is not a common condition and usually appears in adults above 70 years of age. When this condition occurs, a pacemaker is needed.
Symptoms of sick sinus syndrome
In the early stages of this condition, there is hardly any obvious symptom. Sometimes, it happens that the symptoms appear and than disappear. However, when they appear, the most common are bradycardia, which is slow pulse, tiredness, fatigue, dizziness and fainting. Furthermore, people with sick sinus node may experience pain in the chest, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Sleeplessness, confusion and problems with memory can also appear as the symptoms of this heart disorder.
The appearance of these symptoms is triggered by the fact that the brain does not receive enough amount of blood due to the reduced blood flow when the hearts pumps too fast or too slowly. Since the above-mentioned symptoms may indicate many other medical conditions, it is important to visit a doctor in order to establish the real cause. When one has normal sinus node, then he/she has from 60 to 100 heartbeats a minute. When one has sick sinus node, then he/she has bradycardia or less then 60 hearts beats a minute, or tachycardia, which is more than 100 heartbeats per minute.
Causes of sick sinus syndrome
In the majority of cases, the causes for the sick sinus node are diseases and conditions that induce scarring or damage to the electrical system of the heart. When a heart tissue is scarred in a surgery, it can also lead to the occurrence of sick sinus syndrome. There are certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers or beta-blockers, which can have negative effects on the sinus node. Furthermore, as we age, the heart tears and wears and that is one of the most frequent causes of this condition when it appears in elderly people.