Bradycardia is a heart condition characterized by a heartbeat that is slower than normal. A normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. Less than 60 beats per minute is considered bradycardia. Fewer heartbeats means that an insufficient amount of oxygenated blood is reaching your body cells. Particularly during physical activity or exertion, this can cause symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, fainting and confusion.
Bradycardia can be caused by damage of some kind to the heart muscle or to the electrical systems that control the heart. Aging can also play a role in developing a slow heart rate. Taking certain types of medications can also cause the heart rate to slow below 60 beats per minute.
Bradycardia can only be diagnosed with certain tests on the heart and its function. These may include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Stress Test
- Holter Monitor
- Electrophysiology Study (EP Study)
- Event Recorder
Depending on what is causing you to experience a slower heart rate, the treatment varies. If adjustments to your current medications are not enough to resolve the issue, then a Pacemaker may be recommended to regulate your heart rate. In this case, a pacemaker can get your heart rate back up to normal speed to ensure you are receiving the appropriate amount of blood circulating throughout your body.