Bradycardia is defined as having a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute – slower than the national average of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Having a slow heart rate may not be a cause for alarm though – healthy young adults and athletes often average less than 60 beats a minute. If you exercise more, your heart can supply your body with fewer beats per minute.
For others, bradycardia is a sign of a problem in the heart’s electrical system. They can be caused by several factors:
- Age: The older you get, the more the electrical system of the heart functions abnormally.
- Underlying heart conditions: Diseases that damage the heart’s electrical system, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks and heart infections.
- Underlying medical conditions: People with low thyroid conditions or an electrolyte imbalance (such as too much Potassium in your blood stream).
- Medicine: Medicines for treating heart problems or high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers.
If you believe there is a cause of concern, talk to your doctor about your heart rate. Medical treatment for bradycardia can vary depending on what’s causing it.