In 20 children needing treatment for symptomatic sick sinus syndrome, the average age at presentation was 7.1 years and ranged from 9 months to 18 years. Symptoms were never precise but, in retrospect, 5 children had syncope, 7 had a rapid heart action, 6 had dyspnoea or tachypnoea, 2 had nonspecific chest pains, 2 had pale spells, and 1 had a sudden hemiplegia. Symptoms followed cardiac surgery in 15 cases and were related to unoperated congenital heart disease in 2 and to myocarditis in 2. The aetiology was unknown in 1 case. The type of cardiac surgery resulting in the development of the sick sinus syndrome was predominantly related to atrial suturing. Both tachy- and bradydysrhythmias were found, including wandering atrial pacemaker (9 cases), junctional rhythm (19 cases), supraventricular tachycardia (9 cases), atrial flutter (11 cases), and atrial fibrillation (2 cases). Both atrial (8 cases) and ventricular (7 cases) premature beats were seen. All patients were given trials of drug therapy but difficulties were encountered. Cardioversion was used for tachyarrhythmias in 11 cases without serious problems. Six children had permanent cardiac pacemakers inserted with good results. Recognition of the sick sinus syndrome in childhood is important and treatment must be regulated by the severity of symptoms.
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