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Sick Sinus Syndrome?

I woke up shortly after 3am this morning wide awake. I started getting numbness and a burning sensation in my left arm. It was most intense from the elbow down. I got up and walked downstairs to take my blood pressure. My blood pressure was 160/100 with a heart rate of 100 BPM. I remained seated trying to stay calm and my blood pressure and heart rate did come down, along with the sensation in my arm (came down to 135/90 75 BPM). However a few minutes later the sensation came back, and my heart rate and blood pressure went back up. At this point I decided to go to the ER because I didn't feel normal, something felt wrong. When I got there they did an EKG, Chest X-Ray, and took blood. All three tests came back normal. The doctor said I was low risk for a cardiac event since I’m 26 years old and don’t have a family history or risks factors other than high blood pressure. However my blood pressure is controlled, I usually range between 120/70 to 130/80. It sounded like he thought my sensation in my hard/arm were from carpel tunnel and my chest discomfort was GERD since I mentioned I suffer from acid reflux.

Anyway they put am EKG monitor on me for observation. I had a strange sensation in my chest and the alarm on the monitor was chiming. My heart rate went from around 70 BPM to 150 BPM. However by the time they got the 12 lead EKG hooked up to me, my heart rate began returning to normal however the monitor caught it. At first they thought there was something wrong with my hearts electrical system but the doctor said after review, it looks like a speed up as if I were exercising. After that they took another round of blood samples and did some kind of thyroid test. Once again everything came back normal. In the end they diagnosed it as sick sinus syndrome and discharged me since I was in no immediate danger. They called my primary doctor and want me to follow up with a cardiologist.

I’m a 26 year old male. I was an athlete and in very good physical shape most of my life. However after college I started working in IT behind a desk and put on a lot of weight. I weighted around 235lbs when I started in March 2011 and by the end of the year I weighted 270 lbs. When I was 25 years old I was diagnosed with High Blood Pressure, around 140/90 but sometimes it spiked to 150/95. I started exercising and dieting which helped bring my blood pressure down a little bit but I was still averaging around 135/85 which occasional spikes above 140/90. In February of 2014 my doctor prescribed Lisinopril 10mg to lower my blood pressure. It was very effective as it took my blood pressure to around 110/70. I was taking Lisinopril for two weeks when I had very concerning symptoms: rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, light headed, weakness in legs, chest discomfort. I went to the ER. They did multiple blood tests, chest x-ray, chest CT scan, echo-cardiogram, stress test, EKG which all came back normal. The hospital determined I was in no immediate danger and discharged me the next day. I went to my primary care doctor who took me off Lisinopril thinking it might have been the culprit since I had just recently started it.
After that event I started exercising more and started really watching my diet. I lost 40 lbs over 4 months, dropping from 275lbs to 235lbs. My blood pressure is controlled for the most part now but I occasional have high readings but most of the time if I sit at rest for 5-10 minutes it will drop below 135/85. My heart rate is inconsistent however. My resting heart rate can range anywhere from 50 to 80 BPM. Usually it’s on the higher end of that range after exercise, and lower end of that range. However I usually feel pretty good while exercising.

I’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux and sometimes the symptoms are bothersome. I constantly have the wet burps with the acid taste and burning. Sometime I have stomach discomfort on the left upper part of my stomach. Other times it is in the lower left part of my chest. There are other times it spreads throughout my chest and under my left arm pit. At times it’s a dull ache, other times it’s a burning sensation. At times it’s a different feeling. I was prescribed Lansoprazole but the side effects bothered me too much. I ended up going back on Ranitidine.

I’ve also had a heart rhythm study done for 4 weeks where I wore and event monitor. The results from that did not uncover anything concerning. I have chest discomfort often but typically it is pretty minor but sometimes its concerning however because I’ve had all these tests that say I’m healthy and my heart is healthy I just write them off as heart burn / GERD symptoms. I just had a checkup two weeks ago with my primary doctor and she said I was perfectly healthy and my heart was healthy. I’ve had all these tests that have come back fine. Now today they caught my heart racing on the EKG and diagnosed me with Sick Sinus Syndrome.

1. What is sick sinus syndrome, how is it treated/cured, can I continue to exercise normally?
2. Can GERD and anxiety perhaps be mistaken for sick sinus syndrome?
3. Is it normal or common for someone who was very athletic and physically active growing up to develop sick sinus syndrome or any other arrhythmia in their mid 20s?
4. Could specific foods or environmental factors cause temporary sick sinus syndrome?
5. Is it possible to have sick sinus syndrome or any other arrhythmia and by some strange coincidence it has never been detected the other times I've been to the ER or Doctor or during my heart rhythm study when I wore an event monitor?  
2 Responses
1423357 tn?1511089042
Ok....so you've had EKG's, 30 day monitors, blood tests, echo, stress test (?), etc, and they all come back normal.  You go to the ER and they diagnose you with Triple S.  Did I ever tell you about the time the ER diagnosed me with a badly bruised shoulder?  Well....two surgeries, and two very long stainless screws later I was on my way to recovering from a broken shoulder blade, and a separated AC joint. But I digress....  I would take what the ER says very lightly.  A lot of the ER help are just the other side of an orderly.  SSS is often a result of past heart surgery,  It can be present in people with other serious diseases like muscular dystrophy, and it's most common is the elderly.  Reading your short bio, it would appear that you don't fall into any of these categories.  Go see your cardiologist.  Let him access your ER records, and have him make the call.  Is it possible?  Sure.  Is it likely given your bio:?  Probably not.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the feedback tom_h. I was a little skeptical about being told I had sick sinus syndrome but there wasn't a concrete explanation for having my heart rate shoot up like that so I've been worrying about it since. I had a heart calcium score test as well I'm awaiting the results from. I'm just waiting to see the cardiologist at this point.

This is probably a question for the GERD community but is it possible for GERD to irritate the area around the heart to the point it can effect heart rhythm?
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