How Common Is This Condition
Bradycardia is a common condition among people in certain age groups and with certain circumstances. Its most common in the following:
- People over 65. This condition causes symptoms in about 1 in every 600 adults over age 65. That means there are over half a million adults over 65 with symptoms of this condition. However, the number of people with bradycardia but no symptoms is probably much higher. Bradycardia is especially common in older adults when theyre asleep.
- People who are very physically active. People who regularly exercise can have bradycardia because they are in good physical shape. Bradycardia doesnt affect these people because their heart pumps blood more efficiently and meets their bodys needs even though it beats slower.
How Do I Take Care Of Myself
If you have bradycardia with symptoms, you should do the following:
- Ask your healthcare provider for help. Talking to your healthcare provider is essential so you can get the best guidance on how to care for yourself.
- Take your medication. If you have bradycardia and you take medication for it, take your medication as prescribed. You can also ask your doctor for more information about how to best take your medications if you have any questions or concerns.
- See your provider as recommended and needed. If you have bradycardia but dont have symptoms, you should see your doctor when they recommend it. Monitoring your condition long-term can help catch any potential trouble signs faster.
What Is A Normal Sleeping Heart Rate
Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician
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Your heart rate fluctuates throughout the day, based on activity levels and emotions. Stress and exercise can raise heart rate, while sleeping can lower it. A normal heart rate while sleeping is often between 40 to 50 beats per minute , though there is variability between individuals.
We discuss what is considered a normal sleeping heart rate for each age range, as well as share signs to look out for that may indicate an underlying condition.
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Typical Resting Heart Rates
For most adults, a normal resting heart rate is considered to be between 60 to 100 bpm, though this range can vary and depends on multiple factors. Adult males tend to have lower heart rates.
A heart rate outside of this range may still be considered healthy in certain situations. For example, athletes and physically fit individuals may have resting heart rates as low as 30 bpm. Your doctor can help you assess whether your resting heart rate is healthy for you.
Resting heart rate decreases with age. For example, one large study found that the upper limit of the average resting heart rate is 110 bpm for adults 18 to 45 years old, 100 bpm for those between 45 and 60 years old, and 95 bpm for those older than 60. These are the average resting heart rates for healthy adults, as reported by the same study:
Other Heart Electrical Issues
If the heart is unable to send electrical signals due to a blockage or heart disease, this can lead to bradycardia.
Complete heart block is when there is a total loss of communication between a persons atria and the ventricles. This occurs when the SA node is unable to pass a signal to the AV node.
Complete heart block results in a persons atria and ventricles activating independently of each other. If a person does not receive treatment for complete heart block quickly, it can be fatal.
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How Can You Care For Yourself
Bradycardia is often the result of another heart condition, so taking steps to live a heart-healthy lifestyle will usually improve your overall health. The steps include:
- Having a heart-healthy eating plan that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit alcohol, sodium, and sugar.
- Being active on most, if not all, days of the week. Your doctor can tell you what level of exercise is safe for you.
- Losing weight if you need to, and staying at a healthy weight.
- Managing other health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Causes Of Low Heart Rate
Firstly we will discuss things directly affecting the heart tissue and the conduction system called intrinsic disease. Aging is a common cause of slow heart rate, which results from degeneration of the conduction system of the heart. Heart attacks may damage areas of the conduction system also. Conditions that affect many organs of the body such as sarcoid, lupus and others can also affect the conduction system of the heart. Undergoing heart valve surgery such as the TAVR procedure for aortic stenosis, the mitraclip procedure for mitral regurgitation, mitral valve replacement or mitral valve repair, aortic valve replacement, or other complex heart surgeries may also cause trauma to the conduction system of the heart. Sometimes infection of the heart valves can extend in to the conduction system of the heart also.
Next we will discuss outside influences on the heart and conduction system known as extrinsic causes. Certain situations such as coughing, vomiting and others can lead to slow heart rate through the nerve system. Drugs that directly slow the heart rate include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and others. Metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism can lead to a slow heart rate. Levels of electrolytes such as potassium derangement can lead to a slow heart rate.
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Normal Resting Heart Rate For Adults
According to the American Heart Association , a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm . But some people may have a resting heart rate thats lower than 60 bpm and is still considered normal.
For example, athletes may find their heart rates are lower, sometimes as low as 40 bpm. Additionally, people taking certain medications, like beta-blockers, may also have a lower resting heart rate. Well explore more factors that can influence resting heart rate later on.
The table below shows the average normal resting heart rate for adults based on age.
Why Does Atrial Fibrillation Happen And How Common Is It
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance and affects up to 800,000 people in the UK.
The cause of atrial fibrillation is not fully understood, but it tends to occur in certain groups of people and may be triggered by certain situations, such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking.
The condition can affect adults of any age or gender but:
- is more common the older you get
- affects about 10% of people over 75
- more common in men than women
Atrial fibrillation is more likely to occur in people with other conditions, such as:
- high blood pressure
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Is Resting Heart Rate Different By Age
For most of us , between 60 and 100 beats per minute is normal.1 The rate can be affected by factors like stress, anxiety, hormones, medication, and how physically active you are. An athlete or more active person may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Now thats chill!
When it comes to resting heart rate, lower is better. It usually means your heart muscle is in better condition and doesnt have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Studies have found that a higher resting heart rate is linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure and body weight.2
When Should I Be Concerned About High Blood Pressure And A Low Pulse
Its best to work with a healthcare professional to help monitor high blood pressure and low pulse.
For most people, this means creating a care plan with your doctor if:
- Your blood pressure is consistently higher than 130/80 mm Hg
- Your pulse is consistently lower than 60 beats per minute
- Your pulse is consistently higher than 100 beats per minute
No matter your pulse, if your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg, rest for five minutes and test again. If your blood pressure remains elevated but you dont have any other symptoms, contact your doctor.
- Change in vision
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When To See A Doctor
If you or a loved one notices mild to medium symptoms, go to a doctor quickly.
If you or a loved one faints, has chest pains or trouble breathing, call 911.
Tiredness, trouble concentrating, or breathing harder may just seem like part of growing older. But sometimes itâs more than that.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all your symptoms. If you wear out more easily now than you did a month or year ago, let them know.
What Are The Symptoms
A very slow heart rate may cause you to:
- Feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Have chest pain or a feeling that your heart is pounding or fluttering .
- Feel confused or have trouble concentrating.
- Faint, if a slow heart rate causes a drop in blood pressure.
Some people don’t have symptoms, or their symptoms are so mild that they think they are just part of getting older.
You can find out how fast your heart is beating by taking your pulse. If your heartbeat is slow or uneven, talk to your doctor.
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Does Bradycardia Require Treatment
If your heart rate is slow, but you dont have symptoms, theres no reason to worry. However, its a good idea to know the signs of trouble because bradycardia in some cases does require treatment.
For example, if your heart rate drops into the 30s, you might not get enough oxygen to your brain, making fainting, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath possible. Blood can also pool in your heart chambers, causing congestive heart failure.
How Is Bradycardia Diagnosed
When you see your doctor, they will measure your heart rate. Your heart rate might have returned to normal, so its a good idea to keep a record of when you experience bradycardia or related symptoms.
Your doctor will also need to work out the cause of your bradycardia. They will ask about your symptoms and your medical and family health history, and will examine you. Tests, such as an electrocardiogram, or ECG, might be done to check your heart. Depending on what is found, you might need further tests such as a stress test.
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How Do I Get My Heart Rate In The Target Zone
When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? Theres a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you hit the bullseye so you can get max benefit from every step, swing and squat. Even if youre not a gym rat or elite athlete, knowing your heart rate can help you track your health and fitness level.
What You Can Do For Your Heart Rate
Additionally, you should visit your doctor regularly for physicals. Not only is it good practice, but it can also help with the early detection of high cholesterol or blood pressure abnormalities.
If you already have heart disease, you should carefully monitor your condition and stick to your treatment plan. Take all medications as instructed by your doctor. Be sure to promptly report any new or worsening symptoms.
Other heart health tips include:
- Find ways to reduce stress. Examples include things like yoga or meditation.
- Limit your caffeine intake when possible. Using too much caffeine can increase heart rate.
- Limit intake of energy drinks.
- Moderate your intake of alcohol. Women should only have one drink or less per day while men should have two or fewer drinks per day.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases your heart rate, and quitting can help bring it back down.
- Avoid cannabis. Cannabis use
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The Importance Of Monitoring Your Heart Rate
If you are concerned about a low heart rate, visiting your physician can help determine the causes. Your doctor will first ask about your usual activities and conduct a physical exam.
They may use an electrocardiogram to measure the electrical signals in your heart, in order to see whether theyre firing correctly. Wearing a 24-hour monitor can also help your doctor see how your heart performs over time.
Once your doctor decides you might need treatment, they will try to rule out medications or other pre-existing conditions as causes. Sometimes changing medications or similar strategies can solve the problem.
If not, implanting a pacemaker via minimally invasive surgery is the only option to speed up your heart rate, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.
However, he notes that bradycardia isnt often an emergency, so doctors have time to choose the right treatment.
In general, bradycardia allows time for us to evaluate the condition and rule out if any other condition is responsible, Dr. Baez-Escudero says. Then, we can adjust medications or take other steps if we need to.
My Heart Rate At 46 Is That Safe
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How Is Bradycardia Treated
The treatment of bradycardia depends on whats causing it. Bradycardia thats mild or occasional may not require treatment.
If a slow heart rate is due to the effect of a medication, its possible that your doctor may adjust your medication dosage. If possible, they could also switch you to a different medication that doesnt have bradycardia as a side effect.
Similarly, if an underlying condition is contributing to your bradycardia, your doctor will work to address that condition. For example, the medication levothyroxine can be used to manage hypothyroidism.
Its also possible that your doctor may recommend a pacemaker. This is an implanted medical device that stimulates heartbeats so that they occur at a regular rate and rhythm. Bradycardia is one of the main conditions for which a pacemaker may be recommended.
The Conduction System Of The Heart
The heart has its own natural pacemaker made up of a specialized collection of cells in the top chamber of the heart known as the SA node. This generates an impulse that travels through another collection of cells in the middle of the heart known as the AV node. The pathways taken by the impulses are known as the conduction system.
Problems with a low heart rate can be caused by dysfunction of the SA node, the AV node or the conduction system! It gets even more complex. The conduction system of the heart has many nerves attached to it some of these nerves decrease the rate of conduction whereas others increase the rate of conduction. The nerves that decrease the rate of conduction and therefore lower heart rate are known as parasympathetic nerves. An example is when someone vomits this can increase impulses in the parasympathetic nerves and slow the heart rate significantly for a while. This can even lead to passing out, which is known as a vagal event.
A balance of impulse from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves determine a persons baseline heart rate. Interestingly, in experiments where a persons nerve supply is blocked, the heart rate is often higher this would suggest that the parasympathetic nerve impulses that serve to slow the heart rate down are the predominant force under normal resting conditions. This is particularly evident at night when most people have a significant drop in heart rate.
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What’s A Normal Heart Rate
Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100bpm.
The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm, or lower.
See a GP to get checked if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 60bpm, although it may simply be that this is normal for you.
Find out more about how to check your pulse on the British Heart Foundation website.
When To Contact A Doctor
If a baby has a low pulse, a parent or caregiver should take them to the emergency room.
Adults and children who have a low pulse and experience symptoms such as chest pain, fainting, or exercise intolerance should also go to the hospital.
A person should contact a doctor about bradycardia when they:
- experience an unexplained change in heart rate that lasts for several days
- have bradycardia and other heart health risk factors, such as diabetes or smoking
- have heart disease and bradycardia
- experience bradycardia and other symptoms, such as fainting spells
- experience episodes of bradycardia and tachycardia, which is a rapid heartbeat
If a person is concerned about their slow heart rate, they should also consult a doctor.
A doctor may not always need to treat a slow heart rate. However, when a slow heart rate causes serious health problems, it is essential that a person receives treatment.
The treatment an individual receives for their bradycardia
a pacemaker. This is a device that is implanted under a persons skin and connected to their heart. The pacemaker then sends impulses to the heart that cause it to beat regularly.
Depending on the cause, a doctor might also recommend:
- changing heart medications
- taking medication to treat thyroid or other metabolic disorders
- making lifestyle changes, such as eating a low fat diet, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking
- monitoring heart rate or blood pressure frequently
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