Sick Sinus Syndrome

Dr. Alrich L. Gray // Central Montana Heart & Vascular Institute

Sick Sinus Syndrome

Sick sinus syndrome occurs when the natural pacemaker of the heart (sinus node) is not working properly. The sinus node is in the top part of the heart and it sets a normal rhythm for the heart to follow. When the sinus node is dysfunctional, the heart can beat irregularly, too fast, or too slow. Symptoms of sick sinus syndrome include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Slower than normal pulse (bradycardia)
  • A sensation of rapid, fluttering heartbeats (palpitations)

To treat sick sinus syndrome, your doctor may adjust your medication routine to take you off any medications that may be interfering with your sinus node. He may also prescribe medications that can treat irregular heart rhythms caused by the sinus node. To ensure that your heart rhythm stays normal for a long period of time, he may insert an artificial pacemaker. In cases where your heartbeat becomes dangerously fast, he may perform a catheter ablation, during which he will use radiofrequency or cryo energy to modify the tissues in your heart that cause the dangerously fast rhythm.