Bradycardia

What's is it?

Bradycardia means an abnormally slow heart beat. It is usually defined as a heart beat that is slower than 60 beats per minute.

Some people who have slow heart beats are completely healthy. But for other people, a slow heart beat may mean that not enough blood is being pumped to supply the needs of the heart itself.

Bradycardia can cause fatigue and other symptoms. If it is serious enough, bradycardia can cause cardiac arrest and death.

What are the symptoms?

Bradycardia does not always cause symptoms. In some people, such as athletes, a slow heart beat may be normal and completely healthy.

Most common symptoms of bradycardia are:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest discomfort

How is it treated?

The first step in treating bradycardia is determining its cause.

A major cause of bradycardia is a problem with the conduction system of your heart. The heart contains a network that acts as an electrical wiring system. This conduction system can be damaged or degenerate over time, causing your heart rate to slow down or to skip beats.

Your cardiologist may recommend a pacemaker to treat your slow heart rate. A pacemaker is a small device that is implanted in your chest. Tiny wires extend from the pacemaker to your heart. When necessary, the pacemaker produces electrical impulses that keep your heart beating at a steady pace.

In some patients, other disorders—such as hypothyroidism—may be causing the slow heart beat. If that is the case, your cardiologist will recommend treatment for the underlying condition.

Another cause of bradycardia can be the medications you are taking. Your cardiologist will want to determine if a current prescription could be the cause of your slow heart beat. Often, lowering the dosage or taking an alternate medication can help resolve the problem.

What is Lee Memorial Health System's approach?

If you need a pacemaker, it will be implanted at one of the electrophysiology labs at Lee Memorial Health System.

We have two modern EP labs, equipped with the most recent imaging and mapping devices that can pinpoint the cause of your abnormal heart rhythm. Our labs are staffed by a dedicated team of cardiologists, nurses and technicians.

Who should I contact?

If you experience sudden or unexplained chest pain,
call 911 immediately.

Learn more about Electrophysiology Studies.

View this topic in our Health Encyclopedia.


Treatment & Care

Lee Memorial Health System offers many surgical and medical procedures
for heart and vascular conditions.

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