A person’s heart normally beats around 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, this is not always the case for some people. There are individuals whose heart beats faster than normal and there are also with heart rate slower than 60 beats per minute. People with a slow heartbeat than normal may have a condition called Bradycardia.

Bradycardia is a type of arrhythmia wherein the heart’s rhythm is abnormally slow. In certain conditions, a person’s heart rate slows down such as during rest or sleep or those people who are often physically active; and this is still considered normal. However, a slow heart rate can be considered abnormal once the person feels weak and tired.

Causes of Bradycardia

Our heart beats because of the electrical signal coming from the body’s natural pacemaker called the sinus node which is located in the upper portion of the right atrium. This signal will then travel to the atrioventricular, then through the bundle of His, and to the muscles of the ventricles — creating a contraction on the ventricles resulting in a heartbeat. Bradycardia happens when the travel of this signal is blocked or slowed down with the following causes:

  1. Problems with the sinus node
  2. Problems with atrioventricular node or other parts of the conduction system
  3. Congenital defect
  4. Thyroid problem
  5. Obstructive sleep apnea
  6. Certain heart medications

The risk of getting Bradycardia also increases as the person gets older.

Symptoms of Bradycardia

People with Bradycardia may feel the following symptoms:

  1. Weakness
  2. Dizziness
  3. Tiredness
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Fainting

If you start experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms and your heartbeat is below 60 beats per minute, then it is important to visit your physician right away.

Treatments of Bradycardia

A person shouldn’t wait to faint or feel chest pains before calling the attention of a doctor. It may be hard for a physician to diagnose this condition as a person’s heartbeat could slow down intermittently and increase back up by the time they see a physician.  If you are showing symptoms of Bradycardia, your doctor will require you to have an EKG or wear a 24-hour monitor for observation.

Your doctor may also check your personal and family history. A person with Bradycardia will have a treatment plan personalized based on what causes the condition. Supposing if your Bradycardia is caused by a thyroid problem, then your doctor may start with treating your thyroid issues first. If it is a side effect of your heart problem medication, then you may be asked to change your medicine or at least lower the dosage.  If bradycardia lasts for a long time, it could damage your other organs.   

If there are no reversible causes for bradycardia, a pacemaker can be inserted by a specially trained cardiac electrophysiologist.   In expert hands, a procedure can be done safely with minimal risks. Pacemaker technology continues to evolve and the appropriate pacemaker is selected based on the level of conduction disease.

Physicians at Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants are specially trained in the evaluation and management of bradycardia and can be reached at 804-410-9749 by phone and www.vaheartbeat.com 

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