Bradycardia or Slow Heart Rate

Chest | Cardiology | Bradycardia or Slow Heart Rate (Symptom)


Bradycardia is the medical condition characterized by an abnormally slow heart-rate, a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute, though it is seldom symptomatic until the rate drops below 50 beats/min.


A slow resting heart rate is also common for trained athletes or young healthy individuals. It may cause cardiac arrest for some patients, because those with bradycardia may not be pumping enough oxygen to their hearts. For 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.

Bradycardia is caused by something that disrupts the normal electrical impulses controlling the rate of your heart's pumping action. Many things can cause or contribute to problems with your heart's 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.