A person diagnosed with bradycardia or slow heart beat has heart beat rate less than 60 beats per minute while at rest. In majority of people with bradycardia, slow heart beat is not a sign of heart problem. On the contrary, it is a sign of good health. However, in others bradycardia is a life threatening condition, which must be treated promptly to prevent sudden deaths.
When slow heart rate is normal
At rest, the heart rate of athletes and healthy young adults might fall below the normal heart beat rate of 60 beats per second. The heart beat rate in physically fit young adults might be between 40 and 50 beats per second at rest. If your body is extremely fit, your heart can supply your body enough oxygenated blood with fewer heart beats while the body is at rest. Slow heart beat rate does not cause health problems as long as the body is getting adequate blood supply.
Causes of slow heart rate
Usually the heart rate increases with age. In older adults, heart diseases disrupt the electrical system of the heart. The natural pacemaker of the heart fails to perform its normal function and slows down the heart rate. If the heart fails to perform its normal pumping function, blood supply throughout the body falls. Coronary artery diseases and heart attacks are the common causes of bradycardia. Infections in the heart valve or inflammation of the heart muscle might damage the natural pacemaker of the heart.
Slow heart beat might occur in people with hypothyroidism. Electrolyte imbalance, especially abnormal rise in the potassium level in the blood might adversely affect the electrical system of the heart. Slow heart rate might be the side effect of certain medicines taken for treating heart problems or hypertension. Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and confusion are common signs of bradycardia caused by disruption of the heart’s electrical system.
The normal heart rate could be revived by treating the underlying health problems associated with this condition. You will need a pacemaker to treat problems of the heart’s electrical system caused by heart diseases. Correcting electrolyte imbalance and improving thyroid function could restore the natural heart rate.