Bradycardia (slow heart rate)

Chest | Cardiology | Bradycardia (slow heart rate) (Disease)


Bradycardia is a medical state characterized by an abnormally slow heart-rate, the resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute. Until the rate drops below 50 beats/min bradycardia is seldom symptomatic. A slow resting heart rate can also be present at trained athletes or young healthy individuals.

It may cause cardiac arrest in some patients, because those with bradycardia may not be pumping enough oxygen to their hearts. In others, bradycardia may indicate an underlying disorder such as hypothyroidism or heart block.

Bradycardia may also occur as a result of taking beta-blocker drugs. Fainting can occur with sinus bradycardia if the heart slows down even more. Resting bradycardia is often considered normal if the individual has no other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, chest discomfort, palpitations or shortness of breath associated with it.

Causes and Risk factors

Bradycardia is caused by something that disrupts the normal electrical impulses controlling the rate of your hearts pumping action. Many things can cause or contribute to problems with your hearts electrical system, including: heart tissue damage related to aging, damage to heart tissues from heart disease or heart attack, high blood pressure (hypertension), congenital heart defect, infection of heart tissue (myocarditis), a complication of heart surgery, hypothyroidism, obstructive sleep apnea, inflammatory disease, such as rheumatic fever or lupus, medications, including some drugs for other heart rhythm disorders, high blood pressure and psychosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A diagnosis of bradycardia is determined usually either via palpation or an EKG and the treatment is dependent on whether or not the person is stable or unstable. ...

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