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Sinus Arrhythmia
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Sinus Arrhythmia

My daughter was diagnosed with sinus arrhythmia.  Sometimes, during her cheerleading practice, or sometimes for no reason, she will suddenly feel like her heart is beating very fast, she will feel dizzy, almost fainting, and has a hard time breathing.  Should I get a second opinion or are these symptoms common with a sinus arrhythmia?
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Typically, the term "sinus arrhythmia" refers to the variation in the spontaneous rate of the sinus node, resulting in variation of heart rate.   Sinus arrhythmia can be classified into respiratory and non-respiratory. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia is the commonest. Heart rate increases as we breathe and decreases upon expiration. On inspiration the left ventricular output decreases and the baroreceptors trigger a rise in heart rate. The reverse occurs in expiration.  An important variety of non-respiratory sinus arrhythmia is something called "ventriculophasic sinus arrhythmia". This is often seen in advanced heart block, and is dangerous.  Unless she had an ECG, and that showed serious abnormalities, to me the term "sinus arrhythmia" is a broad term diagnosis. Are you positive this is the actual diagnosis?  I would indeed get a second opinion!

When this happens, your daughter should break and she or another party should measure the rate of her pulse. This and other symptoms such as how did it start and how does it return to a normal rate are very valuable information in helping form a correct diagnosis and treatment procedure.  If this is frequent occurance, a small portable monitor can be worn to actually record a basic ECG, and without a doubt could be worn during her cheerleading activities.
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Tom did a good job explain sinus arrhythmia.  I had it captured on a holter and reading up on it I found out that is is very common in children and they generally grow out of it so I wouldn't be so worried about that part of it but I would pay attention to the fast beat that is causing her to feel dizzy and faint.  This is very possibly another condition called supraventricular tachycardia.  I have had it my whole life but I would only seem to notice it upon exercise when I was a child though I thought it was normal so I never actually told anyone.  It only happened on rare occasions.  If this is what your daughter has it is also likely nothing to be overly worried about but you will want to get her diagnosed to know exactly what you are dealing with and specifically what type she possibly has.  

Some things the doctor will want to know are how often does she feel the fast beat?  As Tom suggested, when it happens have her try to track how fast her heart is going?  Is it something that starts and stops suddenly?  That would be a clear indication of svt.  The most common ones are avnrt and avrt but it could also possibly be wpw.  The rate of the beat can possibly give you some gauge as to what type it is but a cardiologist will need to give the official diagnosis.  If your daughter has it often enough, at least once a month, like Tom said she can be fitted with a very simple event monitor that she can record when she has an episode.  At that point the cardiologist can go over with you the next steps for your daughter.  I will forewarn you though, I have read that children who undergo ablations to cure their svt run a much higher risk of it coming back because their bodies are still growing and maturing.  So take that into consideration if you are offered an ablation.  That said, if this is something that is a common occurrence for your daughter and it is disrupting her life then taking care of it sooner rather than later may be the most prudent thing to do.  That said, for some peace of mind, there are many here who have had svts their whole lives and are still healthy.  I am 44 and just had mine abated in Sept.  Others haven't had it ablated until their 50s so more than likely your daughter's over all heart and health is fine and her long term outlook is likely excellent as well but  the situation does call for a cardiologist followup just to get a handle on what is wrong and where she is now.  Take care and keep us posted on how she is doing.    
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Geez....I really wish they would get rid of the title "Sinus Arrhythmia" This is a NORMAL response in the heart. Simply put, when some people breathe in, the heart rate increases and when they breathe out, it decreases. That's exactly what a sinus arrhythmia is, nothing more, yet the title scares so many people. The symptoms she is having are not as a result of this. She should be evaulated by a pediatric cardiologist. The symptoms she is having could be caused by several things, everything from low blood sugar to dehydration to asthma; they may not be heart related at all. On the flip side, she could have an actual arrhythmia issue going on so do have her evauated by the doctor and take it from there. Take care
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Avatar_m_tn
  I might suggest that there are other issues at hand given the difficulty breathing and near fainting associated with a rapid hear rate. I would agree with the other posts that a good and thorough workup with a peds cardiologist is in order, if nothing else than to relieve your mind. Why worry needlessly when the answers are available ? Would suggest also reading as much as you can on legitimate sites all about this situation so that you can understand a little (or a lot) of what may be taking place.
Good luck and I hope it all works out. I'm sure it will.
j  
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