Medical Q&As

Bradycardia - what is it?

I was wondering if you have any information on sinus bradycardia or sick sinus syndrome?

Sick sinus syndrome means that the hearts own pacemaker is not working properly. This pacemaker is known as the SA or sinoatrial node and it rhythmically discharges a low voltage electrical impulse that controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. If the SA node is malfunctioning a wide variety of rhythm disturbances can occur. Sinus bradycardia is one such rhythm disturbance but this arrhythmia can also occur for a variety of reasons other than sick sinus syndrome. The term bradycardia means that the heart rate is slow. Very fit people tend to have a slow heart rate therefore bradycardia does not necessarily mean that the person has a heart defect. Bradycardia can also happen as a result of a sudden rises in blood pressure, an under active thyroid gland, severe jaundice, cardiac drugs such as digitalis or even head injury. The treatment for sinus bradycardia is to treat the underlying condition. For example if the person has an under active thyroid gland, treating that primary condition should restore the heart rate to normal. If the bradycardia occurs as a result of sick sinus syndrome the person may require anti-arrhythmic drugs with or without the insertion of an artificial pacemaker. Essentially the artificial pacemaker overrides the erratic discharges from the sick SA node and restores a more regular pattern of electrical discharge, which in turn restores the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat to normal.