Arrhythmia, Heart Diseases, Heart Health, Sinus Dysrhythmia

What Does a Sinus Dysrhythmia Diagnosis Mean for Your Life

Sinus dysrhythmia - what it is, what are the causes and treatment options.

The heart should beat at a regular interval, just like a clock. But, when there is a health problem or dysfunction in the normal heart rhythm, that’s when a person encounters sinus dysrhythmia. You’ve probably heard both terms dysrhythmia and arrhythmia being used relating to heart health. Both have the exact same meaning.

When a person has sinus dysrhythmia or arrhythmia, their heart rate is out of sync.

Today the term arrhythmia is more widely used. If you want to know what being diagnosed with dysrhythmia means, you’ve come to the right place. This is a detailed guideline of how the abnormal heart rate is affecting your life.

Sinus Dysrhythmia – What Is It Exactly?

A resting heart rate has from 60 to 100 beats per minute. These are the number of times the heart beats in a minute when you relax or are well-rested. In some cases, this normal heart rate can quicken and beat over 100 beats per minute. Or become slower to less than 60 beats per minute.

Sinus dysrhythmia could be a normal rhythm, but with a varying rate by over 10 beats per minute. It is often from 75 to 94 beats per minute. The condition has two distinct categories. You have:

  • Respiratory sinus dysrhythmia – this problem occurs when a person experiences a gradual heart rate increase when breathing in and a slow decrease when breathing out. Thus, the condition is associated with breathing.
  • Non-respiratory sinus dysrhythmia – this health issue is present when a patient struggles with an irregularity that has nothing to do with the respiratory cycle.

Both categories can happen in sick or healthy hearts. This health issue can emerge naturally or as a result of heart damage. Although the heart rate slows down, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are experiencing a heart problem. On the contrary, people who do intense workouts, especially athletes, regularly develop a low resting heart rate.

How Common Is Sinus Dysrhythmia?

Sinus dysrhythmia is a highly prevalent condition and typically happens in young adults and children. It is not uncommon for them to experience rate variations of up to 30 beats per minute. But, if an older patient is diagnosed with the condition, then the complication is often linked to lung disease.

Based on a 2018 report, scientists analyzed over 500,000 adults to study the frequency of a cardiac rhythm abnormality. Exactly 2.35% experienced a baseline rhythm abnormality.

The prevalence increased with age, with 4.84% being affected between the ages of 65 and 73.

What Could Be the Cause for Sinus Dysrhythmia?

The sinoatrial (SA) node creates electrical signals. The heart beats in response to these signals. The impulse travels through the atria (the upper chamber of the heart) and gets to the AV node (atrioventricular node).

Distinct fibers let these impulses reach the AV node to the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of the heart.

When something gets in the way of this sequence, that’s when dysrhythmia can happen.

It could be the result of a:

  • Genetic predisposition;
  • Extreme exposure to stress;
  • Alcohol abuse;
  • Drug abuse (especially methamphetamine and cocaine);
  • Heart damage (from a heart attack or surgery);
  • Viral infection (like the coronavirus);
  • Smoking;
  • Specific cold, allergy, or blood pressure meds;
  • Some health complications (e.x. sleep apnea, thyroid complication, elevated blood pressure).

Should I Be Worried?

Since this is a benign problem, it is not harmful. But, it shouldn’t be left unmanaged, mainly among older patients. While mild forms of sinus dysrhythmia might not trigger any serious health complications, when the problem gets severe, it could expose the body to certain medical issues. These include:

  • Unexpected cardiac arrest – According to research, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death account for 15% to 20% of all deaths, meaning they can be serious health problems. Though most cases are due to coronary artery disease, it is crucial for patients to manage their arrhythmia recurrence.
  • Dementia – Some patients experience cognitive issues because of arrhythmia. Dementia is the most common type of problem.
  • Heart failure – The condition is making it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently. Therefore hindering tissue and organ function.
  • Stroke – It is possible for the condition to pool the heart chambers, amplifying the possibility of blood clots. 

How to Manage and Treat Sinus Dysrhythmia?

When diagnosing the condition, the doctor will do a physical exam, listen to the heartbeat, and take the pulse. They will also do a thorough analysis of your health state, habits, symptoms, and history of heart problems.

Another helpful tool you can easily use on your own to diagnose and manage this problem is personal heart health monitoring devices and connected apps. With them, you can easily follow changes in your condition, including heartbeat, and share this information with your doctor to build the most effective treatment plan.

The treatment, overall, will vary based on the type of problem you are dealing with. Only a doctor can suggest the ideal form of treatment.

The most practical methods of treatment are healthy lifestyle changes, medical procedures, and proper medication.

When to Contact a Specialist?

If your heart rate feels slower than usual, you have frequent pounding or heart palpitations, consult with a doctor as soon as you can. Other symptoms also include fainting, dizziness, pain in the chest, exhaustion, and trouble breathing.

Final Thoughts

Sinus dysrhythmia is a typically recorded problem that influences the rhythm or rate of the heartbeat. A person can experience different types of this condition. Although it may not trigger complications for everyone, some patients can still develop serious health problems. That’s why it is vital to consult with an expert to know how to keep the heart-healthy.

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