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Bradycardia is a condition which in basic terms means slow beating of the heart. In most cases, the typical rate is 60 to 100 beats in a minute when the person is at rest. In case your heart beats less than 60 times in a minute, then it is slower than normal. But a slow heart rate is not always a health concern even though sometimes it could indicate issues with of the heart.
What could bradycardia mean?
Some people with slow heart rate or bradycardia tend to be very fit, and they have no underlying health issues. Athletes and healthy young adults often have a heart rate lower than 60. But in others, bradycardia indicates that the natural pacemaker of the heart is not working well, or the electrical pathways have been disrupted. In severe forms of the problem, the heart may beat so slowly that it fails to pump adequate blood for meeting the needs of the body. This may show some symptoms and could be fatally dangerous.
What are the causes of bradycardia?
There are various causes of bradycardia, and some of them include:
- Alterations in the heart which results from aging
- Health conditions that slow down the electrical impulse through the heart. This may include electrolyte imbalance, low thyroid levels, and others.
- Diseases which may disrupt the electrical system of the heart including heart attack, coronary artery disease, and myocarditis.
- Certain medications that are used for treating heart problems like high blood pressure or hypertension, arrhythmia, and beta-blockers, and digoxin.
What are the symptoms of bradycardia?
When a person has very slow heart rate, he or she may experience lightheadedness or dizziness, feeling short of breath, having difficulties in doing normal activities or exercising, having chest pain, feeling tired and fatigued. In some cases, it is seen that the person may have palpitations, feeling confused, trouble in concentrating and fainting.
What’s worse, some people don’t have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms are so negligible that they think they are caused just because of aging. The best way to understand whether you have this problem is to take the pulse, and in case, it is slow or uneven, you must talk to a doctor.
How is bradycardia diagnosed and treated?
Bradycardia tends to come and go from time to time, and therefore, a standard EKG is not always able to detect it. A standard ambulatory electrocardiogram is used for detecting the condition, and sometimes, blood tests are also necessary.
The treatment of bradycardia is entirely dependent on the cause of the problem and its symptoms. It is worthy of mention here that in case the problem is not causing any symptoms, then they would not be treated under usual circumstances.