Is Bradycardia Dangerous?

Mar 12, 2024
Is Bradycardia Dangerous?
Bradycardia is a heart rhythm where your heart beats slower than 60 beats a minute – but is it dangerous? Keep reading to discover more about bradycardia and when to seek treatment for a low heart rate.

A slow heart rate can be confusing, especially when you're a healthy adult. However, it can also signal a real problem. A heart rate below 60 beats per minute is sometimes a problem because the heart can't pump oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Bradycardia isn't always an issue, though – it's normal while you're asleep and for people in good physical shape. But how do you know if you should be concerned about your heart?

At the Heart Clinic of Hammond, Dr. Ghiath Mikdadi and Dr. Farid Zayed provide a fast diagnosis and treatment for bradycardia and other cardiac problems.

Dr. Mikdadi and Dr. Zayed are two expertly trained cardiologists offering permanent pacemaker insertion and other treatments for symptomatic bradycardia.

Understanding bradycardia

While at rest, the average heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, everyone's heart rate differs based on genetics, heart problems, and other health conditions.

It's common for your heart rate to fluctuate throughout the day, speeding up during physical activity and slowing down while resting. However, when your heart rate is consistently below 60 beats a minute, you may have bradycardia.

Bradycardia is a type of arrhythmia where the heart beats slower than usual. While it's sometimes a problem, bradycardia isn't always a sign of a health condition. When it is, though, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Exercise intolerance

When bradycardia is an actual medical problem, it can lead to serious health complications, including cardiac arrest and death. However, when we find bradycardia early on, we can treat the underlying cause and prevent severe complications from occurring.

Bradycardia: Is it always a problem?

A slow heart rate is only sometimes a reason for concern, especially if you're an athlete or are physically active most of the time. Athletes live with a lower heart rate because exercise strengthens the heart muscle.

With each heartbeat in an athlete, the heart pumps a larger quantity of oxygenated blood to the body and muscles, allowing it to beat slower. Bradycardia is also common while sleeping, as the body doesn't require as much oxygenated blood during sleep.

However, bradycardia can be a severe problem, especially when it's due to electrical issues within the heart, metabolic problems, or sick sinus syndrome. Heart medications and cardiac issues like a heart attack or coronary artery disease can also lead to bradycardia.

If you have a low heart rate and are having symptoms, it's essential to seek treatment immediately. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact our team:

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Have bradycardia and tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • A slow heart rate that lasts for days
  • Have heart disease and a slow heart rate
  • Are diabetic with bradycardia

Anytime you're unsure about your heart rate, seeking treatment is a good idea. The sooner we treat the cause of bradycardia, the better the outcome is.

What are the treatments for bradycardia?

The treatment for bradycardia depends on the underlying problem and your current health. For temporary bradycardia, our team may have you wear a Holter monitor, which allows us to watch your heart rate for several days, all day and night.

However, more severe forms of bradycardia require either medications or a pacemaker. Medications help the heart function better, increasing the heart rate and improving the strength of each beat.

A pacemaker can be either temporary or permanent. A temporary pacemaker may be necessary if you have short-term bradycardia or are waiting for a permanent pacemaker.

Our team inserts the permanent pacemaker during a surgical procedure. The pacemaker delivers electrical impulses to the heart, making it beat faster and more efficiently. Pacemakers provide long-term relief of bradycardia symptoms.

If you have a low heart rate and are concerned about your health, don't hesitate to call the Heart Clinic of Hammond today to schedule a consultation or request an appointment on the website.