Bradycardia is a condition where the heartbeat is slower than normal. The heart of a healthy adult normally beats between 60 and 100 times per minute.

In the condition, the heart muscle contracts less than 60 times per minute. It can be a serious problem if the heart is not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body.

For some people, however, the condition causes no problems, much less any complications.

What are the symptoms?

If your heart rate is slower than normal, your brain and other organs are not getting the amount of oxygen they need to function normally.

And this can be the reason for the appearance of symptoms such as:

• Fainting or fainting /syncope/;
• Dizziness;
• Sensation of muscle weakness;
• Fatigue;
• Shortness of breath;
• Pain in the chest;
• Confusion or difficulty remembering;
• Unusually rapid fatigue with routine physical activity;

When is a slow heart rate normal?

For some young healthy people and trained athletes, most often a heart rate lower than 60 beats per minute is completely normal, which for them does not represent a health problem.

When should you seek medical attention?

A number of diseases and conditions can cause a slow heartbeat. It is important that you are given a timely and accurate diagnosis, which will allow the appointment of the most appropriate treatment. See your GP if your child shows any of the symptoms of the condition.

If you feel sick, faint, or feel chest pain for more than a few minutes, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Do the same if someone around you shows similar symptoms.

What are the causes?

A slow heart rate is caused by a disruption in the intensity or frequency of the normal electrical impulses that control the heart’s pumping function.

Many diseases and conditions can cause or contribute to impaired cardiac conduction system function, for example:

• Age-related damage to heart tissue;

• Violation of the functionality of part of the heart tissues, due to cardiovascular disease or heart attack;

• Congenital heart disease;

• Infection of heart tissue – myocarditis;

• Complication of heart surgery;

• Decreased function of the thyroid gland – hypothyroidism;

• Disturbed balance of electrolytes in the body, which provide an environment in the heart tissue for the faster passage of electrical impulses;

• Repeated interruption of breathing during sleep – obstructive sleep apnea;

• Inflammatory disease such as rheumatism or lupus;

• Accumulation of iron in the organs – hemochromatosis;

• Medicines – against hypertension and psychosis, including those used for other heart rhythm disorders;

Treatment of bradycardia

The appropriate method of treatment is determined depending on the type of electrical conduction disorder in the heart tissue and the cause of the decreased heart rate.

If a disease such as hypothyroidism or obstructive sleep apnea is found to be the cause of the slowed heart rate, treatment may also lead to normal heart activity.

Your treating doctor suspects that certain medications may be the cause of your condition, then he will recommend an alternative therapy.

In such a case, changing the drugs or lowering their doses may correct the slow heart rate problems.

When alternative methods of treatment are not applicable, then it is necessary to place a pacemaker – a smart device that tracks the heart rate and generates electrical impulses in such a volume that the normal heart rhythm is maintained.

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