What is a slow heartbeat?

A slow heartbeat is a heart rate that is below normal. The medical term for a slow heartbeat is bradycardia. The normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. A slow heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute.

A slow heart rate may begin suddenly (acute) or develop over time (chronic). In some situations, a slow heart rate can occur as a result of chronic medical conditions.

There are many causes of a slow heartbeat, and they range from mild to serious. A slow heart rate can result from cardiovascular disorders, diseases and conditions. Athletes in excellent physical condition may have a slow heartbeat. Heat exhaustion, hypothermia, and malnutrition can also cause a slow heartbeat. Some medications may cause a slow heartbeat as a side effect.

In many cases, a slow heartbeat is not serious. However, a slow heartbeat may occur as a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, experience shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness, or if you think you may be having a heart attack.

If your slow heartbeat is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a slow heartbeat?

A slow heartbeat may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the heart may also involve other body systems.

Common symptoms that may occur along with a slow heartbeat

A slow heartbeat may accompany symptoms that are related to other body systems including:

CAUSES

What causes a slow heartbeat?

There are many causes of slow heartbeat, and they range from mild to serious.

Cardiovascular causes of a slow heartbeat

A slow heartbeat may be caused by cardiovascular disorders or diseases such as:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation