Bradycardia is an abnormally slow heart rate. In adults, it is a heart rate of less than 50 to 60 beats per minute.
The condition can range from mild to life-threatening.
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Bradycardia may be caused by:
Bradycardia is more common in older people. Other things that raise the risk are:
Bradycardia may have no symptoms. Those who have symptoms may have:
Some types of bradycardia need emergency care. They can lead to loss of consciousness or sudden cardiac arrest.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will include listening to the heart.
Blood tests may be done to look for underlying problems.
Your doctor may need to test heart function. This can be done with:coronary angiography. Other tests may also be needed.
Treatment may not be needed if there are no heart symptoms or problems. The doctor may monitor the heart rate and rhythm instead.
Those with heart symptoms and problems need care right away. The goal is to reach and maintain a normal heart rhythm.
Treatment may include:
Bradycardia cannot always be prevented. Some things may help reduce the risk. They are:
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Heart Rhythm Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Arrhythmia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/arrhythmia. Accessed August 30, 2021.
Barstow C, McDivitt JD. Cardiovascular disease update: bradyarrhythmias. FP Essent. 2017;454:18-23.
Bradycardia—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/bradycardia-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed August 30, 2021.
Bradycardia: slow heart rate. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/about-arrhythmia#.Wh2r8FWnFxA. Accessed August 30, 2021.
Overview of arrhythmias. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/overview-of-arrhythmias. Accessed August 30, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 8/30/2021