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What is Bradycardia?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bradycardia is a condition in which the heart rate per minute is less than the usual sixty to one hundred beats common for adults. The lack of a sufficient amount of beats per minute can lead to a number of health issues, most of them related to less oxygen-rich blood being pumped to various points around the body. There are several health issues that may trigger bradycardia, most of which can be corrected without surgery.

The underlying causes of bradycardia include any type of health issues that could prohibit the proper function of the heart. A common trigger for this condition is high blood pressure. Hypothyroidism, or a thyroid that is underactive, may also cause the slower heart rate. Heart diseases such as infections, a congenital heart defect, or damage sustained during a heart attack can also cause the heart to pump less efficiently. Bradycardia causes also include some prescription medications, especially those that are used for emotional disorders and to treat high blood pressure.

Bradycardia symptoms tend to reflect the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. It is not unusual for dizziness and a sense of being about to pass out to occur whenever the individual stands or engages in some sort of physical activity. There may be a general feeling of weakness, as well as a constant sense of fatigue. In some instances, chest pains will take place, accompanied with a shortness of breath. Problems sleeping are not uncommon with people suffering with this decreased heart activity.

Fortunately, the process of bradycardia treatment can often alleviate the symptoms by treating the underlying cause. If medication is the reason for the slow heartbeat, changing the dosage or switching to other medicines may restore the heart rate to a normal range. In cases where high blood pressure or hypothyroidism is present, changes in diet, exercise, and medication may help to correct those problems and eliminate the decreased heart activity at the same time. In cases where the heart is damaged, surgery to insert a pacemaker may be the best solution.

Many people are immediately distressed when they believe something is wrong with the heart. Seeing a doctor immediately after experiencing the symptoms associated with bradycardia can make it much easier to quickly identify the origin of the problem and begin the proper course of treatment. By following the advice of a qualified physician, it may be possible to see an improvement in heart rate and a decrease in symptoms in a matter of a few days or weeks.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By sunnySkys — On Sep 26, 2011

@JessicaLynn - Wow, that's scary. I'm glad your friends doctor figured out what was going on fairly quickly!

I think bradycardia is especially scary because it limits the amount of oxygen a person gets. The symptoms sound pretty uncomfortable too. Fatigue and dizziness could definitely prevent you from going about your day normally!

By JessicaLynn — On Sep 26, 2011

It is true that some types of medication can cause bradycardia. One of my friends got this from an anxiety medicine she was on!

She was having panic attacks all the time, so her doctor prescribed her an anti-anxiety medicine. It worked really well for her anxiety, but she started feeling a little weird after taking it for about a week. At first she thought it was just normal medication side effects. However, when she went back to her doctor her doctor discovered that her heart was beating too slow.

Needless to say the doctor immediately weaned her off that medication and got her on something else! She's been fine ever since!

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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