Sinus Node Dysfunction and Atrial Fibrillation: A Reversible Phenomenon?

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

BACKGROUND: Symptomatic sinus node dysfunction (SND) consists of a variety of manifestations, including tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is commonly associated with SND, which complicates the management of both conditions. This paper reviews the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical trial data investigating therapeutic approaches for treatment of patients with both SND and AF. METHODS: The authors reviewed articles published in English describing the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and therapeutic approaches for patients with SND and AF. The search was conducted using PubMed. Keywords included: sick sinus syndrome, sinus node dysfunction, atrial fibrillation, pacing, and pulmonary vein isolation. RESULTS: SND affects up to one in five patients with AF. AF can lead to anatomical and electrophysiological remodeling in both atria, including the region of sinoatrial node. Changes including atrial fibrosis, altered calcium channel metabolism, and transformed gene expression have been demonstrated in patients with AF and SND. Nonrandomized clinical trial data have failed to demonstrate whether any pacing strategy can reduce the risk of AF. Pulmonary vein isolation appears to decrease episodes of tachybrady syndrome and sinus pauses. CONCLUSIONS: SND affects up to one in five patients with AF. The pathophysiological derangements in gene expression, ion channel metabolism, and alterations in myocardial architecture associated with AF may lead to anatomic and electrical changes in the region of the sinoatrial node. Ablation may improve symptoms associated with SND in patients with AF. Future randomized trials are needed to clarify the epidemiology and optimal management of patients with SND and AF.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jackson, LR; Rathakrishnan, B; Campbell, K; Thomas, KL; Piccini, JP; Bahnson, T; Stiber, JA; Daubert, JP

Published Date

  • April 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 442 - 450

PubMed ID

  • 28155995

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1540-8159

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/pace.13030


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States