SSS is caused by a problem with the electrical signals of the heart. The problem begins in an area of the heart called the sinoatrial (SA) node. This node is considered to be the heart’s natural pacemaker. When the SA node is defective, the heart’s rhythms become abnormal. The dysfunction in the SA node can be due to:
- Intrinsic causes (problems within the heart tissue), such as degeneration of the sinus node, long-term illness, or even surgical injury
- Extrinsic causes (outside factors acting on the heart tissue), such as exposure to toxins or certain pharmacological agents
SSS is fairly rare. It occurs most often in elderly people and those who have had damage to the heart tissue. Both men and women seem to be affected equally. Although rare, infants and children can have SSS. In this case it is usually due to congenital abnormalities in their heart. Some of the risk factors for sick sinus syndrome include:
- Age 50 and older, and especially age 65 and older
Some medications may worsen symptoms:
- Calcium channel blockers
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