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Understanding What Causes a Slow Heart Rate

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A resting heart rate of an average healthy person is in between 60 and 100 beats per minute while the athletic person has lower heart beat. Because of his extraordinary physical conditioning, the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps reportedly has a heart rate in the 30s.

When a heart muscle is often exercised, it pumps more efficiently but when someone who doesn’t exercise regularly has a slow heart beat, it can be dangerous. This condition is called as bradycardia in which the heart’s conduction system isn’t properly functioning. We’ll find out the causes for it. The treatments range from adjusting medication to placing a pacemaker, a device which tells the heart when to contract. When the heart rate is very low, a person can become short of breath and can pass out which can be a fatal condition.

With age, its common to experience slow heart rate however, it is something which should be monitored by your doctor. Find out what a short heart rate means for your health and when it is time to seek treatment.

Causes of a Slow Heart Beat

The following are the causes of a slow heart beat:

• Age
• Result of damage from a heart disease or heart attack
• Sleep apnea
• Thyroid problems
• Genetic condition
• Medications called beta blockers and calcium channel blockers


In case adjusting the medications doesn’t work for you, then your doctor will consider placing a pacemaker which is a small unit that generate electrical impulses to stimulate and generate the heart beat. Technology has evolved and advanced so much during the past 20 to 30 years that pacemakers can do absolute wonders.
A pacemaker is a size of a match-box, battery powered device which is placed under the skin in the chest, often under the collarbone. A pacemaker has two parts- a pulse generator and wires attached to the heart wall. The surgical procedure can take an hour or two while the pacemaker battery will often lasts between five to 15 years. In case the battery runs out, the old pulse generator will be taken out and a new one will be implanted. Often the pacemakers work reliably and once you put one in, you can use any medication you want.

Check Your Heart Rate

Knowing your heart rate can help to monitor how fit you are, and this could help spot a health problem. Your resting heart rate is your heart pumping which is the least amount of blood needed by your body when you aren’t exercising. Usually babies and young children have faster heart rates over 100 beats per minute. Starting at about age 10, children should have a heart rate similar to adults, i.e. between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Activity trackers are a common way to figure out your rate. You can check it by placing two fingers on your wrists, top of the foot or side of your neck, until you feel your pulse. Now count the number of beats you feel in 60 seconds. If your heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute, then it is a good idea to check with your doctor, especially in case you don’t exercise regularly.

Athlete’s Heart

Now how do doctors know whether a person’s slow heart is caused by excellent physical conditioning known as athlete’s heart or due to a problem in the electrical conduction?

Usually cardiologists will check a person’s weight and ask about his or her activity level. If someone exercises, is very conditioned and runs all the time, then their resting heart rate will be slower. Someone who is an ultra-fit marathoner can have a heart rate in the 50s or the higher 40s. People who are in great physical shape will often monitor their own heart rate with activity trackers.

There are many ways using which doctors can test the heart function and analyze the blood flow through the arteries and to the heart. These tests include an exercise stress test, a coronary CT angiogram and an echocardiogram. It is also important to test the heart’s resilience. According to the doctors, the fitter you are, the quicker your heart rate will come back to normal after exercise. In individuals who are not very fit, the heart rate will go up quick and take longer to return back to normal.

If you are unsure about the pace of your heart or if you have symptoms such as dizziness or light-headedness, then visit your doctor for a check-up.

Latest Activity: Aug 24, 2017 at 3:06 AM

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