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About Bradycardia (Slow Heart Rate)

Bradycardia is defined as a slow heart rate or irregular heart rhythm. A healthy heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute, which is necessary to supply oxygen-rich blood to the body. Those with bradycardia experience a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute, often resulting in dizziness, shortness of breath, and even fainting spells.

Diagnosis

Only your doctor can tell if you have bradycardia and how far the condition has progressed. To rule out or confirm the diagnosis of bradycardia, one or several of these diagnostic tests may be ordered depending upon the suspected heart rhythm problem:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Exercise, ECG, or stress test (measures your heart rhythm while you’re engaged in a physical activity)
  • Holter or event monitor
  • External loop recorder
  • Insertable cardiac monitor
  • Tilt table test
  • Electrophysiology study (EP study)

Treatment

Treatment strategies vary, depending on your bradycardia causes and symptoms. Your doctor might prescribe new medications, or adjust the doses of medications you are currently taking to restore your normal heart rate.

If this fails to restore a normal heartbeat, a pacemaker can regulate your heart’s rhythm. A pacemaker is designed to mimic the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker. By sending an impulse when the heart’s rhythm is slow or interrupted, it effectively regulates the heart rate automatically, freeing you to enjoy your regular pursuits activities.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 17 Jun 2014

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