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What Can Cause Low Heart Rate

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Bradycardia Causes + 9 Natural Ways To Improve Slow Heart Rate

Low Heart Rate – Causes, Symptoms, Dangers

By Kathleen McCoy, BS

If your heart beats less than 60 times each minute, you have bradycardia. This condition can also be referred to as sinus bradycardia. At rest, an adult heart typically beats between 60 and 100 times a minute anything lower may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. It can be a serious condition if your heart isnt pumping enough blood throughout the body.

There are, of course, exceptions. Young adults and premier athletes may have a resting heart rate of less than 60 beats a minute and this is generally not considered a health concern. Bradycardia symptoms can range from mild to severe, particularly when your brain, liver, kidneys and other organs arent getting enough oxygen.

Several conditions can cause bradycardia, including several potentially serious conditions, such as myocarditis, sleep apnea, lupus or certain medications. Bradycardia treatment depends on the underlying cause of the low resting heart rate but may also include the surgical placement of a pacemaker.

If you become suddenly faint, have difficulty breathing or experience chest pains, call 911 immediately.

Understanding Your Heart Rate By The Numbers

You can measure your own heart rate. First, find your heart rate by holding a finger to the radial artery at the wrist. Then, count the number of beats per minute while youre resting.

Other places your heart rate can be measured are at the neck , the groin , and the feet .

Here are some numbers to keep in mind:

Blood Pressure And Heart Rate Have Normal Target Numbers

False: There are guidelines, but whats normal varies from person to person.

Optimal blood pressure typically is defined as 120 mm Hg systolic which is the pressure as your heart beats over 80 mm Hg diastolic which is the pressure as your heart relaxes. For your resting heart rate, the target is between 60 and 100 beats per minute .

Keep in mind that heart rate and blood pressure are a customized fit. You need to work with your doctor to establish a baseline thats normal for you.

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Can Anxiety Cause A Slower Heart Rate

  • Anxiety is typically known for a rapid heart rate.
  • Anxiety has also been loosely linked to a lower heart rate.
  • Some of the causes of slow heart rate are biological, or relate to adrenaline loss.
  • Lower heart rate may also be a misdiagnosis, with fear that links back to anxiety.
  • There are some indirect ways to reduce anxiety over a slower heart rate, although addressing the anxiety itself is a more important step.

Urgent Advice: Call 999 If:

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You have sudden chest pain that:

  • spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
  • makes your chest feel tight or heavy
  • also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
  • lasts more than 15 minutes

You could be having a heart attack. Call 999 immediately as you need immediate treatment in hospital.

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A slow heart rate is known as bradycardia, and occurs frequently in older adults. As people get older, there is occasional normal wear and tear on the electrical system of the heart, says cardiologist Jose Baez-Escudero, MD. As a result, the normal rhythm tends to slow down.

Dr. Baez-Escudero shares when to worry about low heart rate and the signs and symptoms to watch for.

What Treatments Are Available For Patients With Bradycardia

If you have bradycardia but do not have any symptoms, or if the bradycardia doesnt happen often or last long, you may not need treatment. Sometimes bradycardia is a good thing and is the goal of treatment.

If you need treatment, it will be based on the cause of the condition. If you have an electrical problem in your heart, you will need a pacemaker to keep your heart beating as it should. A pacemakers is a small device that is placed under your skin to monitor your hearts rate and rhythm. If needed, the pacemaker will send an electrical impulse to your heart to restore a normal heart rate. There are many types of pacemakers. Your doctor will choose the right type to meet your needs.

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Nausea Or Vomiting And Slow Heart Rate

Reviewed on 10/15/2020

Many different conditions affecting the digestive tract can cause vomiting and nausea, including food poisoning or gastroenteritis. Slow heart rate can occur for a variety of reasons including heart rhythm disorders or shock. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or severe vomiting, seek immediate medical attention.

While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:

Low Ejection Fraction Causes

Can A Low Heart Rate Make You Tired?

A low ejection fraction is often a sign of an underlying heart disease. Many different heart and vascular conditions can lead to low ejection fraction, such as:

  • Cardiomyopathy, which causes your heart muscle to become enlarged, thick or stiff
  • Coronary artery disease, where plaque builds up in the two main arteries that supply blood to your heart and blocks blood flow
  • Heart attack, when blood flow to your heart muscle became blocked and damaged it
  • Heart valve disease, when one or more of your heart valves dont open and close the way they should
  • Systolic heart failure, when your hearts left ventricle cant pump blood forcefully enough

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What To Expect At Your Office Visit

Your provider will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms.

You may be asked:

  • Do you feel skipped or stopped beats?
  • Does your heart rate feel slow or fast when you have the palpitations?
  • Do you feel a racing, pounding, or fluttering?
  • Is there a regular or irregular pattern to the unusual heartbeat sensations?
  • Did the palpitations begin or end suddenly?
  • When do the palpitations occur? In response to reminders of a traumatic event? When you are lying down and resting? When you change your body position? When you feel emotional?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?

An electrocardiogram may be done.

If you go to an emergency room, you will be connected to a heart monitor. However, most people with palpitations do not need to go to an emergency room for treatment.

If your provider finds you have an abnormal heart rhythm, other tests may be done. This may include:

  • Holter monitor for 24 hours, or another heart monitor for 2 weeks or longer

Improving Health With Current Research

Learn about the following ways the NHLBI continues to translate current research into improved health for people with abnormally low blood pressure. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBIs broader commitment to advancing heart and vascular disease scientific discovery.

  • Testing Treatments for Cardiac Arrest and Trauma. The Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium clinical trial network tested treatments to address high morbidity and mortality rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and severe traumatic injury. ROC investigators compared different strategies for supplemental fluids in trauma patients who have low blood pressure. Other ROC studies found a link between low blood pressure readings and the need for emergency procedures.
  • Understanding How Low Blood Pressure Affects Diverse Populations. NHLBI-supported researchers are studying low blood pressure in different populations. Investigators in the NHLBIs Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study found that people who have low blood pressure when standing up, known as orthostatic hypotension, are at higher risk for stroke. In a follow-up study of NHLBIs Honolulu Heart Program, researchers found older Japanese men who had orthostatic hypotension were nearly twice as likely to die within the next four years as those who did not have orthostatic hypotension. NHLBIs Cardiovascular Health Study found that orthostatic hypotension was common in older adults, increases with age, and is linked to cardiovascular diseases.

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Low Ejection Fraction Treatment

Not only are we specialized in treating all kinds of heart conditions, but we also specialize in tailoring a treatment plan just for you. We take the time to get to know you, pinpoint the underlying cause and provide exactly the care you need.

Your care plan will depend on if your low ejection fraction is linked to another heart condition. We may recommend:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as getting exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking or reducing salt
  • Medication, such as beta blockers or diuretics, to help improve your heart function or get rid of excess fluids
  • Biventricular pacemaker implant to help your heart chambers pump blood as they should
  • Implantable cardiac defibrillator , a device that sends small electrical pulses to your heart to restore a healthy rhythm, especially treating those arrythmias that can cause your heart to stop beating
  • Heart transplant when other treatments are unable to help dangerously low ejection fraction and severe heart problems

Treatment Of Low Heart Rate

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In patients with confirmed or suspected slow heart rate, the underlying possible causes such as those outlined above need to be evaluated carefully. Its especially important to review the medication list carefully and stop any potentially offending agents. Blood tests such as thyroid function studies may be performed.

An EKG is performed to see if there is just a slow heart rate or any evidence of heart block. Sometimes a monitor is worn to see the heart rate over time. Some people with a slow heart rate are unable to get their heart rate up with exercise known as chronotropic incompetence this can be diagnosed with exercise testing. An echocardiogram may be performed to evaluate the heart structure and function.

What we do with a slow heart rate really depends on how bad the symptoms are. Its key to make sure the symptoms are related to the slow heart rate and that possible causes are identified and treated. The main indication for a patient without symptoms to get a pacemaker would be advanced heart block, long pauses in the heartbeat or rhythms that have the potential to lead to instability.

In patients that are symptomatic, and in whom underlying reversible causes have been ruled out, insertion of a pacemaker may be required. The choice of pacemaker for those with a low heart rate is different in different people and depends upon the level of block in the heart.

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What Causes A Low Heart Rate

Many things can bring on a slow heart rate.

A heart malfunction

The most common cause for bradycardia is a malfunction in the hearts natural pacemaker, the sinus node. It controls how quickly the top and bottom heart chambers pump blood through the body.

AV Block

Another cause of bradycardia is atrioventricular block , in which the top and bottom chambers dont communicate well and your heart rate drops as a result.

Its like having virtual electrical cables and wires inside the heart, Dr. Baez-Escudero says. These deteriorate as we age. Common medications used in older populations can also often make bradycardia more significant.

Age

Age is the most common risk factor for developing bradycardia. The condition is most common among men and women over age 65.

Having certain illnesses or conditions

Illness or other conditions may also cause bradycardia. These include:

  • Heart attacks due to coronary artery disease.
  • A bacterial infection in the blood that attacks your heart.
  • Inflammation of your heart muscle.
  • Low thyroid function.
  • Too much potassium in your blood.
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers and antiarrhythmics.

Congenital heart defects, diabetes or long-standing high blood pressure all may make bradycardia more likely, says Dr. Baez-Escudero.

Treatment For High Pulse

Treatment for high pulse will vary according to a range of factors.

It is helpful to try to identify when the pulse first began to rise. Some episodes of a high pulse may be temporary. For example, if a person develops a high pulse after moving from a prone to a standing position too quickly, the heart might beat more quickly to compensate for gravitys effects.

People who experience bouts of low blood pressure or high pulse while moving from a prone to standing position could try to slow down these movements to help avoid the issue.

Exercising may also lead to a high heart rate, especially if a person is not very fit. This is because the heart may start beating faster even after a person attempts minor exercise.

If a person notices that their heart is beating faster, finding ways to calm the body and brain may help. A person can try slowing down their breathing rate or practicing guided meditations to help them relax and reduce heart rate.

If the heart rate does not go back to normal or if a person is worried, contact a doctor for a full diagnosis.

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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.
  • Not smoking.
  • Managing other health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Blood Pressure Vs Heart Rate

What Causes High Blood Pressure And Low Heart Rate?

Blood pressure and heart rate are both important indications of how well your heart is working, but they measure different things. As noted above, blood pressure is the force of your blood flowing through your arteries. By contrast, heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute.

In adults, the heart typically beats 60 to 100 times per minute while at rest. But as with blood pressure, a healthy heart rate will differ between individuals. For instance, a pulse below 60 beats per minute is slower than normal, but it might not cause any issues for you.

However, in some situations, a low pulse means that the heart is not circulating enough blood to satisfy the bodys needs. That can cause you to feel dizzy and weak. A pulse in the 30s is a dangerously low heart rate and should be investigated.

The relationship between blood pressure and heart rate is complex. If youre concerned about your numbers, see your doctor.

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Blood Pressure And Heart Rate Are Always Linked

False: It is true that blood pressure and heart rate often rise and fall together, Dr. Laffin says. When you face danger, for example, your blood pressure and pulse may both jump upward at the same time. However, if your heart rate rises, that doesnt automatically mean your blood pressure will rise or vice versa.

When the two are disconnected, you may be looking at a specific problem, Dr. Laffin says. For example, if you are dehydrated, bleeding or have a severe infection, blood pressure typically decreases and heart rate increases.

A Low Heart Rate Can Lead To Fainting And Falls If Youre Not A Highly Trained Athlete But The Condition Is Often Treatable

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Health risks can develop from a low heart ratea condition called bradycardia.

A low heart rate may be a sign of an efficiently working heart. Or, if the rate becomes too low, it could be a sign of health complications down the road.

A normal or healthy resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats a minute. A heart rate near the lower end of that range is considered a good sign. Your heart isnt working too hard to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Its one indication of cardiovascular fitness. A very rapid heart rate, on the other hand, raises your risk of heart failure, blood clots, and other problems.

If youre not training for a marathon or swimming dozens of laps every day, you should talk with your doctor if you notice a low heart rate.

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How Is Bradycardia Treated

How bradycardia is treated depends on what is causing it. Treatment also depends on the symptoms. If bradycardia doesn’t cause symptoms, it may not be treated. You and your doctor can decide what treatment is right for you.

  • If damage to the heart’s electrical system causes your heart to beat too slowly, you will probably need to have a pacemaker. A pacemaker is an implanted device that helps correct the slow heart rate.
  • If another medical problem, such as hypothyroidism or an electrolyte imbalance, is causing a slow heart rate, treating that problem may cure the bradycardia.
  • If a medicine is causing your heart to beat too slowly, your doctor may adjust the dose or prescribe a different medicine.

The goal of treatment is to raise your heart rate and relieve symptoms. For certain types of bradycardia, treatment may help prevent serious problems. These problems include fainting, injuries from fainting, and even death.

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