Key Points about Bradycardia Arrhythmia

  • Bradycardia is when the resting heart rate falls below 60 BPM.
  • Symptoms of bradycardia include feeling fatigued or feeling weak, confusion, shortness of breath. Bradycardia can be brought on by heart disease, past heart attack, or hypothyroidism.
  • Call your doctor and seek care if you experience any symptoms of bradycardia.
Common related conditions
Arrhythmias Tachycardia Arrhythmia

Overview

For the average person, the resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute (BPM). A resting heart rate of lower than 60 BPM is considered bradycardia. There are exceptions to a low heart rate being below 60 BPM, like during deep sleep and very active adults and athletes often have a resting heart rate slower than 60 BPM.

Typically, those with bradycardia often experience feeling tired and weak. Sometimes dizziness or lightheadedness and a sense of confusion can set in. Those who have had past heart issues like heart disease and heart attacks may experience bradycardia. 

Bradycardia arrhythmia causes

Bradycardia can be caused by several things, including:

  • Having problems with the sinoatrial (SA) node, or the heart’s natural pacemaker
  • Problems with electrical impulses not passing properly
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Damage to the heart (heart disease, heart attack)
  • Certain heart medications where bradycardia is a side effect

Some risk factors include high blood pressure, alcoholism, and high anxiety.

Bradycardia arrhythmia symptoms

Bradycardia is when someone’s heart rate falls below 60 BPM. This can cause insufficient blood flow reaching the brain. According to heart.org, symptoms include:

  • Fatigue or feeling weak
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Fainting spells
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty when exercising
  • Cardiac arrest (in extreme cases)

Bradycardia arrhythmia risk factors

Someone may be more at risk of developing tachycardia if they experience conditions that strain the heart or damage heart tissue. These risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Recreational drug use
  • Psychological stress or anxiety
  • Age

Heart problems associated with bradycardia are more common in older people.

Bradycardia arrhythmia prevention

You can lower your chances of developing bradycardia multiple ways, including:

  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Avoid smoking or being around smokers
  • Alcohol moderation

Bradycardia arrhythmia diagnosis

The most common tool to diagnose a tachycardia is an electrocardiogram, also called an ECG or EKG. An EKG is a painless test that uses small sensors hooked to your chest and arms and measures the heart's electrical activity.

Other tests to diagnosis bradycardia include:

  • Exercise stress test - an exercise stress test can evaluate the heart under stress,
  • Holter monitor &mash; a Holter monitor will record your electrical rhythm during your normal activities
  • Event recorder &mash; an event recorder will monitor your activity over a few weeks
  • Tilt table test &mash; a tilt table test can see how your bradycardia contributes to fainting spells

You may also need blood tests to see if there are underlying causes of your bradycardia. Your doctor may also order a sleep test if he or she suspects sleep apnea is causing your bradycardia.

arrhythmia treatment

If you do not experience bradycardia on a regular basis, you may not require treatment. However, having if you experience symptoms of bradycardia on a regular basis, your doctor will develop a custom treatment plan for you. Treatments may include:

  • Medication: If your medications are causing you to experience bradycardia, your doctor may adjust or recommend that you stop taking that particular medication.
  • Pacemaker: While more commonly used for patients over 65, a pacemaker can be used under the skin to correct an abnormal heart rate.

When should I seek care?

You should seek care once you or someone you know starts experiencing bradycardia symptoms.

Next Steps

Your doctor will be able to recommend the best treatment for your case. Changes to your lifestyle and medications may be recommended to help prevent some of the risk factors associated with bradycardia. Be sure to understand the treatment plan your doctor prescribes and report immediately if symptoms change or worsen.