Almost everyone’s heart skips a beat now and again, and these mild palpitations are usually harmless.
Electrical impulses from the heart muscle (the myocardium) cause the heart to beat (contract). This electrical signal begins in the Sinoatrial Node, also called the SA node or the sinus node. The SA node is located at the top of the heart’s upper-right chamber (the right atrium). The SA node is sometimes called the heart’s “natural pacemaker.” When an electrical impulse is released from the SA node, it causes the heart’s upper chambers to contract.
Sick sinus syndrome is a type of arrhythmia. These are a group of signs and symptoms that tells doctors the SA node is not working properly. The SA node usually sends electrical impulses at a certain rate, but if the SA node is not working properly, the heart may beat too fast, too slow, or both.
Sick sinus syndrome usually develops slowly over many years, and the causes are not always known. It occurs more often in people over fifty, and children might develop the condition after having open heart surgery.
Many people with sick sinus syndrome do not have symptoms. Or they do not think their symptoms are serious enough for them to see a doctor. Some signs and symptoms of sick sinus syndrome are fainting, being dizzy, confusion that comes and goes, feeling the hear has skipped a beat (palpitations), chest pain, angina, fatigue, shortness of breathe aching muscles.
Sick sinus syndrome can be hard to diagnose as the patient may not have many of the symptoms. The doctor will take a medical history, ask about symptoms, and listen to the heart with a stethoscope. With the stethoscope, the doctor may be able to hear an irregular heartbeat, which can be a sign of sick sinus syndrome.