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Sinus Arrhythmia: What You Need to Know

Your heart is an incredibly hard-working organ, beating about 100,000 times a day (35 million times per year) to deliver critical oxygen and nutrients throughout your body.  

An irregularity in your heartbeat, which we call an arrhythmia, can be cause for concern, but does this include sinus arrhythmia? Yes and no.

Dr. Van De Bruyn and our team of heart health experts here at Heart Rhythm Associates have an in-depth understanding of the different types of arrhythmias — and there are many, which can make the problem confusing. 

In the following, we take a closer look at sinus arrhythmia and whether the condition requires treatment.

How your heart beats

To better understand an arrhythmia, it’s helpful to quickly review exactly how your heart beats. 

Initiating each beat and keeping rhythm is your sinoatrial node, a group of cells in your upper right atrium. These cells send out electrical impulses that cause your atria to contract, forcing blood down into your ventricles.

This process occurs 60-100 times each minute, which is the range for a normal heartbeat rate.

When an arrhythmia develops, it can lead to:

There are many different types of arrhythmias with different origins, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on sinus arrhythmia.

Sinus arrhythmia

A sinus arrhythmia can present itself in several different ways, including:

Respiratory sinus arrhythmia

With this type of arrhythmia, your heart beat is tied to your breathing. When you breathe in, your heart rate increases, and when you breathe out, it slows. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia typically occurs in younger people. It’s often imperceptible and usually not cause for concern.

Sinus bradycardia

If your heart rate falls below 60 beats per minute, this is called sinus bradycardia. If there are long pauses in between your heartbeats, this is a sign of sinus bradycardia along with sinus arrhythmia.

Sinus tachycardia

This type of arrhythmia causes your heart to beat too fast, over 100 times a minute. Sinus tachycardia is usually temporary and largely caused by stress, fever, exercise, or other outside conditions. In most cases, sinus tachycardia resolves itself on its own, but if it doesn’t, it could be a sign of a heart disease.

Signs of sinus arrhythmia

A sinus arrhythmia is tricky to identify because it doesn’t usually present any symptoms and often occurs in younger people. This also means that a sinus arrhythmia isn’t necessarily dangerous, and many people never even know it exists.

But if you’re experiencing heart flutters, a racing heart, or other signs of a heart-related problem (pain, pressure, fatigue), it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and come see us. With a simple echocardiogram, we can get a better glimpse at any irregularities in your heart rate and work to resolve the issue.

If you have more questions about sinus arrhythmia, or arrhythmias in general, please contact our office in LIttle Rock, Arkansas, to set up a consultation.

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