What is bradycardia?
Having bradycardia (say
“bray-dee-KAR-dee-uh") means that your heart beats very slowly. For most people, a
heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute while at rest is considered normal. If
your heart beats less than 60 times a minute, it is slower than normal.
A slow heart rate can be normal and healthy. Or it could be a sign of a problem with the .
For some people, a slow heart rate does not cause any problems. It can be a sign of being very fit. Healthy young adults and athletes often have heart
rates of less than 60 beats a minute.
In other people, bradycardia
is a sign of a problem with the
heart’s electrical system. It means that the heart's natural pacemaker is not
working right or that the electrical pathways of the heart are disrupted. In
severe forms of bradycardia, the heart beats so slowly that it does not pump
enough blood to meet the body's needs. This can cause symptoms and can be life-threatening.
Men and women age 65 and older are most likely to develop a
slow heart rate that needs treatment. As a person
ages, the electrical system of the heart often does not function normally.
What causes bradycardia?
Bradycardia can be caused
- Changes in the heart that are the result of
- Diseases that damage the heart's electrical system. These
, and infections such as
- Conditions that can slow
electrical impulses through the heart. Examples include having a low thyroid
level () or an
, such as too much potassium in
- Some medicines for treating heart problems or high
blood pressure, such as
What are the symptoms?
A very slow heart rate may
cause you to:
- Feel dizzy or lightheaded.
short of breath and find it harder to exercise.
- Have chest pain or a feeling that your heart is pounding or
- Feel confused or have trouble
- Faint, if a slow heart rate causes a drop in blood
Some people don't have symptoms, or their symptoms are so
mild that they think they are just part of getting older.
find out how fast your heart is beating by
. If your heartbeat is slow or uneven, talk to your