|Sick Sinus Syndrome|
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<td vAlign=top align=left></TD></TR></TABLE>Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is a type of bradycardia in which the sinoatrial (SA), or sinus node is not working as it should. The sinus node is a small cluster of cells in the upper right chamber, or atrium, of the heart. It contains special "pacemaker" cells that generate the electrical signals that regulate the pace and rhythm of the heartbeat. These signals travel from the sinus node to the AV node. From the AV node, the signal is conducted along pathways that spread into the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood into the lungs and throughout the body.
Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is not a specific disease, but a group of signs or symptoms that indicate the SA node is not functioning properly.
Some patients with sick sinus syndrome also have rapid heartbeats (tachycardia). Or the heartbeat alternates between too fast and too slow. This is called bradycardia-tachycardia syndrome. Often there is a long pause (asystole) between heartbeats, especially after an episode of tachycardia.
SSS affects about 3 out of every 10,000 people. It becomes more common as we age.
Types of Sick Sinus Syndrome
Sick sinus syndrome may be due to defects in the heart itself, or it can be related to factors outside the heart.
Some medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and other conditions, for example, are known to cause bradycardia. This generally does not cause problems for most people, and drugs that slow the heart rate are useful treatments for some types of arrhythmias or other heart disorders. But they may cause low heart rates and bring out other symptoms of SSS in some individuals, such as elderly people with age-related degeneration of the SA node.
Bradycardia also can result from abnormalities of the atrioventricular (AV) node, the part of the heart's conduction system that conducts electrical signals from the atria to the ventricles. These problems are commonly called heart block.
Many people with sick sinus syndrome have no symptoms, or the symptoms may not seem serious enough for concern. The condition may not be diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage. Typically, the first sign an individual with SSS notices is a consistently slow heart rate or bradycardia. Often, the rate falls to 40 to 50 beats per minute or less before it is noticed.
<BLOCKQUOTE>For more information about the electrical conduction system of the heart and what can go wrong, go to The Normal Heart.
If you experience any sudden, unexplained episodes of fainting, consult your doctor.
</BLOCKQUOTE>Other symptoms may include:
People with unexplained symptoms that may be early signs of sick sinus syndrome should consult their doctor as soon as possible.</BLOCKQUOTE>
Seeing the Doctor
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<td vAlign=top align=left>There are some signs that a doctor may discover during a physical examination that suggest a diagnosis of SSS, such as:
by abedheeh </TD></TR></TABLE>
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