written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen
• edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski
• updated: 9/25/2009
This article will focus on and discuss the causes of sinus arrhythmia.
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A sinus arrhythmia is a type of arrhythmia that is characterized by cyclic changes during breathing in a person's heart rate. It is often found in both children and adults, but a bit more common in children. This condition is often considered benign and many patients do not experience complications.
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Patients with this type of arrhythmia may not experience symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur the patient may experience fatigue, fainting, dizziness and palpitations. For some patients these symptoms may be nearly unnoticeable and for others these symptoms can be severe.
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When diagnosing a sinus arrhythmia the doctor will first discuss the patients symptoms with them and perform a physical exam. This physical exam will include closely listening to the heart with a stethoscope so that the doctor can listen for any abnormal sounds. The doctor will then have the patient have an electrocardiogram done. This test can detect arrhythmias. The doctor may also suggest the patient have a holter monitor attached for twenty-four hours or more. This device performs the same task that an EKG performs, but it does it over a much longer period of time. A holter monitor is most often used when a regular EKG has not detected a suspected arrhythmia. In less common cases a electrophysiologic study may be conducted. This test is most often used to determine the origin of the arrhythmia to help to doctor determine the best treatment method.
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Treating this condition depend on several factors such as the patient's age, expected disease progression, disease extent, and the patient's overall tolerance of procedures, mediations and therapies. If this condition is not causing symptoms and is not expected to be dangerous the patient may not require any treatment. If treatment is necessary lifestyle changes are usually the first step. The patient will be asked to avoid alcohol, caffeine and stress. Other substances similar to caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided. Medications can be used to help alleviate the symptoms or the underlying condition causing this condition if there is one. Cardioversion is a procedure that can be used to control certain arrhythmias. Ablation can be used to destroy the arrhythmias site. In some cases a pacemaker can be implanted to help treat this condition. When all other treatment methods have not produced results, some patients may benefit from surgery to eliminate this condition.
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Children's Hospital Boston. (2009). Arrhythmia. Retrieved on September 22, 2009 from Website: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site473/mainpageS473P0.html