It’s true that a slower resting heart rate may be a sign of physical health in athletes, but in some people it could be the sign of a heart condition called bradycardia. Bradycardia is a heart rate that is less than 60 beats per minute (bpm). For most adults, a heart rate below 60 bpm is considered slow. Bradycardia is one of the most common arrhythmias, along with atrial fibrillation and tachycardia, which affect nearly 50 million people worldwide. Learn more about bradycardia and how to detect and manage it.
Causes of severe bradycardia
In some cases, severe bradycardia may lead to a lack of oxygen-rich blood flowing to the rest of your body. This can create serious health complications because your organs aren’t getting the oxygen they need to properly function. Common causes of bradycardia include1,2:
- Heart block
- Sinoatrial node problems
- Damage to or infection of the heart tissue (either from aging or another heart condition)
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid)
Some people with bradycardia may not experience any symptoms and, therefore, may not realize they have it. However, other people may experience fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, or chest pain. You can detect bradycardia with an electrocardiogram (EKG), a non-invasive test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. EKGs are commonly taken in a hospital or doctor’s office, but you can also record one at home with a personal EKG device, like KardiaMobile. KardiaMobile allows you to take a medical-grade EKG in just 30 seconds and receive instant analysis. If you are experiencing bradycardia symptoms, or have detected bradycardia on KardiaMobile, talk with your physician. They can help you create a care plan that’s right for you.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bradycardia, learning to manage it is an important part of your overall health. In mild cases, bradycardia may not require any treatment. However, if you have more severe or prolonged bradycardia, treatment may be necessary. Treatment options for bradycardia could include medication or implanting a pacemaker. Using AliveCor’s KardiaMobile or KardiaMobile 6L to monitor your heart from home is a great first step to managing your condition. With a Kardia device, you can take an EKG the moment you feel an irregular symptom, giving you real-time data to share with your physician or family members, and offering greater peace of mind. Of course, you should talk to your physician for guidance on diagnosing, treating, and managing any heart condition.
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with an arrhythmia or you’re looking to be proactive about your heart health, there are several ways to start living a more heart-healthy lifestyle, including:
- Quit smoking
- Develop an exercise routine
- Eat a more balanced diet
- Manage your blood pressure
- Reduce stress
- Take your prescribed medications as directed