Sick sinus syndrome is a group of symptoms due to faulty sinus node. The sinus node is a cluster of cells in the heart. These cells make the heart beat normally. When the sinus node does not work well, it can lead to:
At first, sick sinus syndrome may not have symptoms, or the symptoms may come and go.
When symptoms happen, they may be:
Fast, skipped, or pounding heartbeats
Feeling faint or fainting
Sick sinus syndrome is often not found unless there are symptoms. The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. To diagnose the condition, heart tests may be done, such as:
Holter monitoring—a device worn to measure heart activity over 24 to 48 hours
Electrophysiology study (EPS)—wires are passed into the heart to measure activity— used more often with severe problems
For those with no symptoms, treatment may not be needed. Over time, sick sinus syndrome can raise the risk of
heart failure, heart attack, or stroke. As a result, the doctor will need to monitor heart health.
Treatment may be needed if uneven heart patterns disrupt blood flow through the heart. Options may be:
—A device may be inserted to send signals to the heart. This will make the heart create a normal rhythm when needed. It is often used with slow heartbeats.
Medicine—May help to control fast heartbeats or speed up slow heartbeats.
Underlying conditions may also need to be treated.
There are no guidelines to prevent sick sinus syndrome.
De Ponti R, Marazzato J, et al. Sick sinus syndrome. Card Electrophysiol Clin. 2018;10(2):183-195.
Sick sinus syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sick-sinus-syndrome. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Sick sinus syndrome. Heart Rhythm Society website. Available at: https://upbeat.org/heart-rhythm-disorders/sick-sinus-syndrome#axzz3NOr35s6f. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Sinus node dysfunction. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/sinus-node-dysfunction. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/13/2021
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