The sinus node is the built-in pacemaker of the heart. It maintains the natural rhythm. When it malfunctions and causes irregular electrical impulses it results in a rare disorder known as sick sinus syndrome. It most often strikes those over 50 years of age, but it can also afflict children who had upper heart chamber surgery. The condition is categorized by the pattern of misfires.
The electrical pathways of the heart can become damaged by scarring from prior surgeries. Sick sinus syndrome can also be caused by certain drugs including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digitalis. The sinus node can also naturally weaken with age.
Most people with sick sinus syndrome are asymptomatic and do not realize they have heart rhythm problems. Others may experience few or intermittent symptoms. The signs of sick sinus syndrome may include:
It’s not clear what causes sick sinus syndrome (SSS), but there are a range of factors which are associated with the disease which helps us to understand who is most at risk of the condition.
Firstly, age is a major factor, with most people with the syndrome being over the age of 50. In these cases, it appears that damage to electric pathways in the heart tissues are to blame. In some instances, SSS can affect children, but it tends to occur only as a result of surgery on the upper chambers of the heart.
Various cardiovascular diseases are strongly associated with SSS, including:
It’s also known that medications used to treat high blood pressure and other heart diseases are associated with SSS.
Thyroid disease, sleep apnea and hyperkalemia are also regularly associated with SSS. Other conditions which are linked to the disorder less frequently include:
The treatment of sick sinus syndrome may include:
Since it isn’t fully understood what causes sick sinus syndrome, it can be tough to prevent it. However, by maintaining a healthy heart you may be able to prevent various types of heart and cardiovascular diseases and therefore reduce the risk of SSS.
The following lifestyle factors can help maintain a healthy heart:
Obesity is strongly linked with heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Strive for a healthy BMI to reduce the risk.
A balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, lean meats, seeds, nuts and legumes, and a moderate amount of fat, sugar and sodium will help to keep the heart healthy.
Adults should complete at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five times each week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times each week, or a combination of both.
Smoking dramatically increases the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, but the risk reduces more and more the longer you stop smoking for.
Normal blood pressure is 120 or less systolic and 80 or less diastolic, while the ideal blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL. Both of these can be checked by your doctor or with a home-testing device. Cholesterol levels can only be assessed through a complete fasting lipoprotein profile, performed by a healthcare professional, and should be less than 100mg/dL. Exercise, balanced diet and healthy weight can all help to reduce high blood pressure.