What is it?

Bradycardia is a slower than normal heart rate, less than 60 heartbeats per minute. Bradycardia may be normal, especially in young athletes, but for other people may cause symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath due to lack of oxygen supply to the body organs. Causes for bradycardia may include congenital heart defect, damage to the heart, sleep apnea, myocarditis, complication of heart surgery, hypothyroidism, imbalance of blood electrolytes, and medications. Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include ECG, Holter monitor, event recorder, and a stress exercise test. Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. It may include lifestyle changes, medications, or an implanted pacemaker.

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Signs & symptoms

A slower than regular heartbeat (bradycardia) can prevent the brain and other organs from getting enough oxygen, possibly causing these signs and symptoms:
-Chest pain
-Confusion or memory problems
-Dizziness or lightheadedness
-Easily tiring during physical activity
-Fatigue
-Fainting (syncope) or near-fainting
-Shortness of breath

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of bradycardia in adults is based on a heart rate of less than 60 BPM. This is usually determined either by palpation or ECG.

Treatment

If there are no symptoms besides slow heart rate, or if the bradycardia doesn’t happen often or last long, treatment might not be needed. Sometimes bradycardia is a good thing and is the goal of therapy. If there is a need for treatment, it will be based on the condition's cause. If there is an electrical problem in the heart, a pacemaker to keep the heart beating is needed. A pacemaker is a small device placed under the skin to monitor the heart’s rate and rhythm.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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