Sick sinus syndrome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sick sinus syndrome
Classification and external resources
Specialty cardiology
ICD-10 I49.5
ICD-9-CM 427.81
DiseasesDB 12066
MedlinePlus 000161
Electrocardiogram from a man with bradycardia-tachycardia syndrome following mitral valvuloplasty, resection of the left atrial appendage and maze procedure. The ECG shows AV-junctional rhythm resulting in bradycardia at around 46 beats per minutes. The second beat is most likely an atrial extrasystole, given the atypical P wave (negative in I, positive in aVR).
This ECG from the same patient shows atrial fibrillation at around 126 beats per minute.

Sick sinus syndrome (SSS), also called sinus dysfunction (SND), or sinoatrial node disease, is a group of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) presumably caused by a malfunction of the sinus node, the heart's primary pacemaker.[1] Bradycardia-tachycardia syndrome is a variant of sick sinus syndrome in which slow arrhythmias and fast arrhythmias alternate. It is often associated with ischaemic heart disease and heart valve disease.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Even though many types of sick sinus syndrome produce no symptoms, patients may present with:


Disorders that cause scarring, degeneration, or damage to the conduction system can cause sick sinus syndrome, including sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, hemochromatosis, Chagas' disease,[2] and cardiomyopathies. Abnormal rhythms are often caused or worsened by medications such as digitalis, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, sympatholytic medications, and anti-arrhythmics.

Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and aortic and mitral valve diseases may be associated with sick sinus syndrome, although this association may only be incidental. The mechanism is related to delayed escape. Congenital SSS can be due to mutations of the gene responsible for formation of Alpha subunit of sodium channel (SCN5A).


Ambulatory monitoring of the electrocardiogram (ECG) may be necessary because arrhythmias are transient.[3] The ECG may show any of the following:

Electrophysiologic tests are no longer used for diagnostic purposes because of their low specificity and sensitivity. Cardioinhibitory and vasodepressor forms of sick sinus syndrome may be revealed by tilt table testing.


Artificial pacemakers have been used in the treatment of sick sinus syndrome.[4]

Bradyarrhythmias are well controlled with pacemakers, while tachyarrhythmias respond well to medical therapy.

However, because both bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias may be present, drugs to control tachyarrhythmia may exacerbate bradyarrhythmia. Therefore, a pacemaker is implanted before drug therapy is begun for the tachyarrhythmia.



It can result in many abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), including sinus arrest, sinus node exit block, sinus bradycardia, and other types of bradycardia (slow heart rate).[5]

Sick sinus syndrome may also be associated with tachycardias (fast heart rate) such as atrial tachycardia (PAT) and atrial fibrillation. Tachycardias that occur with sick sinus syndrome are characterized by a long pause after the tachycardia. Sick sinus syndrome is also associated with azygos continuation of interrupted inferior vena cava.


Sick sinus syndrome is a relatively uncommon syndrome in the young and middle age population. Sick sinus syndrome is more common in elderly adults, where the cause is often a non-specific, scar-like degeneration of the cardiac conduction system. Cardiac surgery, especially to the atria, is a common cause of sick sinus syndrome in children.


  1. ^ Dobrzynski H, Boyett MR, Anderson RH (April 2007). "New insights into pacemaker activity: promoting understanding of sick sinus syndrome". Circulation 115 (14): 1921–32. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.616011. PMID 17420362. 
  2. ^ Keller KB, Lemberg L (March 2006). "The sick sinus syndrome". Am. J. Crit. Care 15 (2): 226–9. PMID 16501143. 
  3. ^ Adán V, Crown LA (April 2003). "Diagnosis and treatment of sick sinus syndrome". Am Fam Physician 67 (8): 1725–32. PMID 12725451. 
  4. ^ Drago F, Silvetti MS, Grutter G, De Santis A (July 2006). "Long term management of atrial arrhythmias in young patients with sick sinus syndrome undergoing early operation to correct congenital heart disease". Europace 8 (7): 488–94. doi:10.1093/europace/eul069. PMID 16798761. 
  5. ^ Semelka M, Gera J, Usman S. Sick Sinus Syndrome: A Review. Am Fam Physician. 2013 May 15;87(10):691-696.