Bradycardia means a slower than normal heart rate. The standard for an abnormally slow heart rate is less than 60 beats a minute.
Bradycardia could be a sign of good physical condition, particularly if you are healthy, young or a trained athlete. Or it can signal you are suffering some sort of health condition.
Bradycardia is caused by a disruption of the normal electrical impulses. These impulses control the rate at which your heart pumps.
Bradycardia is a concern because fewer beats reduces blood flow, thus causing insufficient oxygen supply for healthy functioning of your body.
Several health conditions may cause, or lead to, your heart’s electrical system issue, like:
- toxic exposure
- sick sinus syndrome
- electrolyte imbalance
- congenital heart defect
- obstructive sleep apnea
- heart surgery complication
- aging degeneration of heart tissue
- heart disease, heart attack damage to heart tissue
- inflammatory disease ~ rheumatic fever, diphtheria, lupus
- medications for heart rhythm disorders, high blood pressure, psychosis
Bradycardia reduced blood flow is often associated with damage to your heart, typically caused by some form of heart disease. As such, bradycardia risk factors mimic those of heart disease, such as:
- stress, anxiety
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- recreational drug use
- excessive alcohol consumption
If you have bradycardia, your brain and other parts of your body may be receiving an insufficient supply of oxygen. Not enough oxygen may cause you to experience these symptoms:
- chest pains
- peripheral edema
- sleep disturbance
- memory impairment
- exercise intolerance
- feel like fainting spells
- decreased level of consciousness
For some, bradycardia scarce oxygen may cause no symptoms. And heart failure is a conceivable complication.
Treatment for your reduced blood flow bradycardia depends on the type of problem, severity of symptoms and the underlying cause of your slow heart rate.
If you have a health condition causing your insufficient oxygen symptoms, then treatment will likely correct slow heart rate bradycardia.
Other treatment options involve:
- medication change, dosage change if that is your cause
- implanted pacemaker ~ maintains a healthy heart rate rhythm
An effective way to prevent bradycardia is the same as reducing your risk of heart disease. This essentially requires regular exercise, consuming a healthy diet and maintaining your appropriate weight.