Sick Sinus Syndrome | Overview


What is sick sinus syndrome?

Sick sinus syndrome is the name for several conditions in which the sinus node does not work the right way. The sinus node (also called the sinoatrial node) is a natural pacemaker in your heart that helps your heart beat steadily. An electric current starts in one of the upper chambers (called the atria) of the heart and goes through the heart to the bottom chambers (called the ventricles). The sinus node can increase your heart rate during times of high demand, such as during exercise. If you have sick sinus syndrome, your heart rate may be too slow or too fast to meet the needs of your body.

About 1 in 600 people with heart problems have sick sinus syndrome. It usually affects people who are at least 70 years old. Women are affected about as often as men.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Sick Sinus Syndrome by V Adan, MD; LA Crown, MD (American Family Physician April 15, 2003,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 10/03