Slow heart rate treatment
Dr. Anna Chacon, MDTelehealth visit
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About Slow heart rate
Bradycardia is the medical term for a slower than normal heart rate. A normal heart rate is around 60-100 beats per minute. Anything slower than 60 BPM is considered a slow heart rate, or bradycardia.
A slow heart rate is not always considered unhealthy. Most people have a heart rate under 60 while they sleep, and it is not uncommon for athletes or adults over the age of 65 to have bradycardia while they are sitting or lying down. However, if a slow heart rate is accompanied by other symptoms, it may signify a serious medical concern. A slow heart rate may mean that there is a lack of oxygen-rich blood being pumped into the body, which can lead to serious complications.
- Fainting, or near-fainting episodes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Lack of energy
A slow heart rate may be caused by a number of underlying conditions, including:
- Injury to the heart (such as a heart attack)
- Inflammation and damage to the heart
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- Congenital heart defect
- Myocarditis (infection of the heart)
- Sleep Apnea
- Inflammatory diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Imbalanced electrolyte or calcium levels in the blood
- Certain medications (such as beta-blockers)
- Sinus node problems (a collection of cells that create the electrical impulse for a heartbeat)
- AV blockage (blockage of electrical impulses in the ventricles)
Bradycardia may not exhibit any symptoms at all. If left untreated, and if associated with a serious heart problem, it can lead to dizziness and fatigue. In serious cases, a slow heart rate can cause heart failure and death. If you experience the symptoms above and have a measured heart rate of under 60 BPM, talk to a health care provider right away.
Treatment for bradycardia depends on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying condition that may be causing a slow heart rate. During your appointment, talk to your provider about the treatment plan that’s right for you.