Bradycardia: What is it?

Bradycardia is an abnormally slow heart rate. It is defined as a heart rate that is slower than 60 beats per minute (bpm). Some people may have a normal resting heart rate that is slower than 60 bpm, but if it goes lower than that, it can be a sign of bradycardia. In serious cases, it can be a sign of a heart condition or other underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

Causes of Bradycardia

Bradycardia can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes include:

  • Blockage of the electrical signals that stimulate the heart.
  • Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack or viral infection.
  • Underactive thyroid.
  • Anemia.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Certain medications, such as beta-blockers.
  • Congenital heart defects.

Symptoms of Bradycardia

Symptoms of bradycardia include lightheadedness, fatigue, and weakness. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, and fainting. In some cases, there may not be any symptoms at all.

Treatment for Bradycardia

The treatment for bradycardia depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is due to a medication, then the doctor may reduce the dosage or switch to a different medication. If the underlying cause is a medical condition, then the doctor may prescribe medication to treat the condition.

In cases where the cause is unknown, the doctor may recommend a pacemaker be implanted. A pacemaker is a small device that sends electrical pulses to the heart to keep it beating at a normal rate. If the bradycardia is life-threatening, treatment may include a surgically implanted pacemaker or other medical device.

Prevention of Bradycardia

It is not always possible to prevent bradycardia, but there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, avoiding smoking, and managing stress. It is also important to talk to your doctor if you are taking any medications that could affect your heart rate.