Bradycardia: A heart rate that is slower than normal.

By Dr Arun Gopi

23 May, 2018


Have an abnormally slow heart rate? It could be a symptom of a condition called bradycardia.

The normal resting heart rate for a healthy adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Your heart rate can also slow down normally while you are asleep --to 40 to 60 beats a minute.

However, if you have bradycardia, your heart rate would be consistently below 60 even when you’re awake and active.

What does a slow heart rate or bradycardia imply?
A heart rate below 60 which is slower than normal could be healthy or it could be a sign of a problem with the heart’s electrical system.

Usually, a slower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, athletes might have normal resting heart rates of 40- 60 beats or even below 40 beats per minute. In these people, regular exercise improves the heart's ability to pump blood efficiently, so fewer heart contractions are required to supply the body's needs.

However, if you are not an athlete or a highly-fit individual bradycardia is a sign of a problem with the heart’s electrical system.

What causes bradycardia?
Bradycardia occurs when the electrical signals in your heart are blocked or slow down. The most common cause being a malfunction in the heart’s natural pacemaker.

Other causes include:
•    Changes in the heart due to aging
•    Diseases that damage the heart's electrical system, which include coronary artery disease, heart attack and infections such as endocarditis and myocarditis
•    Problem with the structure of the heart present at birth (congenital heart defect)
•    Conditions that can slow electrical impulses through the heart. Examples include having a low thyroid level (hypothyroidism) or an electrolyte imbalance, Imbalance of chemicals in the blood, such as potassium or calcium

    Certain medications for treating high blood pressure other heart rhythm disorders, and psychosis.


Should you be concerned?

A slow heart rate without symptoms, is not much cause for concern, However, it’s always good to bring it to your doctor’s notice, especially if you experience some of these symptoms:

    Dizziness or fainting
•    Tiredness
•    Weakness
•    Chest pains
•    Shortness of breath
•    Confusion or memory issues
•    Heart palpitations

Should You Worry About Your Fast Heart Rate?

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