Sick sinus syndrome

Sick sinus syndrome is often an indication that there is a need for a pacemaker. When it comes to sick sinus syndrome, bradycardia is present due to disease of the sinus node and the reduced heart rate might be serious enough to trigger symptoms.

Additionally, sick sinus syndrome is often escorted by incidents of atrial fibrillation. The syndrome is prevalent among the elderly, especially among over 70 years of age.

What are the causes?

Sick sinus syndrome typically occurs once the sinus node develops a type of fibrosis linked with the aging process. Once fibrosis involves the sinus node, bradycardia occurs. If the slow heart rate is triggered by an issue with the sinus node, it is called as sinus bradycardia.

What are the associated signs of sick sinus syndrome?

The characteristic signs of sick sinus syndrome are usually due to the slow heart rate such as:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Syncope (severe cases)

In some cases, the symptoms will only manifest during exercise or physical activity. In such instances, the main issue is inability to increase the heart rate properly during activity. This can lead to excessive fatigue while exerting.

Management

Sick sinus syndrome

In some cases, the symptoms will only manifest during exercise or physical activity.

Generally, an individual with sick sinus syndrome must be treated using a permanent pacemaker.

It is important to note that a pacemaker is vital for those with the brady-tachy variant of sick sinus syndrome due to two reasons:

  • Individuals are at high risk for experiencing syncope
  • Various medications that are often given to manage atrial fibrillation such as calcium channel blockers, beta blockers and anti-arrhythmic drugs can worsen the sinus node disease.

The implantation of a pacemaker can help prevent syncope as well as allow the doctor to manage atrial fibrillation safely.

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