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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bradycardia aka Low Heart Rate

A heart usually beats between 60 and 100 times a minute; this is normal for an adult at rest. Young adults and athletes can even have a heart beat lower then 60 beats per minute when at rest, which is still considered normal for them.

When your heart beats slower then what is considered normal for you, then you may be suffering from Bradycardia. A low heart rate means that the heart doesn't pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body which can cause serious health problems and result in the following symptoms:
Near-fainting or fainting (syncope), dizziness, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, disturbed sleep, confusion or memory impairment, easily tiring during physical activity.

The rate of the pumping of the heart is controlled by electrical impulses. Bradycardia is caused by something that disrupts these normal electrical impulses. Some of the things which can cause or contribute to problems with the heart's electrical system, include:

- Degeneration of heart tissue related to aging.
- Damage to heart tissues from heart disease or heart attack.
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Heart disorder present at birth (congenital heart defect).
- Infection of heart tissue (myocarditis).
- A complication of heart surgery.
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
- Imbalance of electrolytes, mineral-related substances necessary for conducting electrical impulses.
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the repeated disruption of breathing during sleep.
- Inflammatory disease, such as rheumatic fever or lupus.
- Hemochromatosis, the buildup of iron in organs.
- Medications, including some drugs for other heart rhythm disorders, high blood pressure and psychosis.

If Bradycardia goes unnoticed or untreated, it can have severe consequences like frequent fainting spells, inability of the heart to pump enough blood which can cause heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest and/or sudden death.

Bradycardia occurs more in older adults due to the degeneration of heart tissue. This damage can be a result of heart related diseases as well. Therefore, avoid high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, use of recreational drugs, psychological stress or anxiety. They lead to an increased risk of heart disease which leads to an increased risk of Bradycardia.

Your doctor will order several tests to determine the how, what and why of your Bradycardia and which treatment plan would be best. If Bradycardia is a result of an underlying disorder then the treatment will be focused on solving that problem. Maybe a change in medications is the culprit in which case your doctor may prescribe you an alternative drug. Sometimes a pacemaker may be the solution.

Either way, make sure to see your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. It may be wise to make a list; don't leave anything out. Even the slightest discomfort can be an indicator of what is wrong and/or turn out being of great help solving the problem.

God hears everything we tell and ask Him. Even the slightest discomfort we can lay at His feet and ask for it to be resolved. He comforts, solves, encourages, guides and leads with love and care as only He can. He is the solution to whatever ails us. :-)

Psalm 62:8
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah


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