Bradyarrhythmia


Bradyarrhythmia

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Arrhythmia is a medical term that refers to a heart rate that is outside of this normal range. An arrhythmia that is too slow is called a Bradyarrhythmia.

A bradyarrhythmia is an abnormally slow heart rhythm, usually due to disease in the heart's conduction system. Bradyarrhythmias commonly cause weakness, lightheadedness and dizziness, and can lead to loss of consciousness if the heart rate is extremely slow. Bradyarrhythmias are most often seen in the elderly.

Bradyarrhythmia

The two most common causes of bradyarrhythmia are diseases of the sinoatrial (SA) node (sick sinus syndrome), which is the heart's natural pacemaker or other problems with the heart's electrical conduction system (heart block). These diseases can cause the heart to beat too slowly all the time or occasionally. In either case, the heart may not pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. As the heart rate declines, there is not sufficient blood flow to the brain, causing feelings of lightheadedness, and sometimes fainting.

Common risk factors:

    Advancing age.

  • Hypothyroidism.

  • Electrolyte imbalance.

  • Hypothermia.

  • Hypoglycemia.

  • Rheumatic fever.

  • Viral myocarditis.

  • Lyme disease.

  • Valvular heart disease.

  • Certain drugs.

  • Smoking & tobacco use.

Men and women age 65 and older are most likely to develop a bradyarrhythmia.

Symptoms:

    Fainting or loss of consciousness.

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

  • Weakness.

  • Mild fatigue.

  • Irregular heart beat.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

Diagnosis:

Your doctor may need to test your heart function. This can be done with:

    Blood tests: to look for certain abnormalities that may explain the bradyarrhythmia (e.g., electrolytes, glucose, thyroid function, and drug levels).

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG): a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle.

  • Echocardiogram: a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart.

  • Holter monitor or event monitor: a portable, continuous heart rhythm monitor that you wear as you perform normal daily activities.

  • Exercise stress test: a test that records the heart's electrical activity during increased physical activity.

  • Nuclear scanning: radioactive material is injected into a vein and observed as it is distributed through the heart muscle to look for coronary artery disease.

  • Coronary angiography: X-rays taken after a dye is injected into the arteries; this allows the doctor to look for abnormalities in the coronary arteries of the heart.

Treatment:

The goal of treatment is to raise your heart rate so your body gets the blood it needs. If severe bradyarrhythmia is not treated, it can lead to serious problems. These may include fainting and injuries from fainting, as well as seizures and death.

Treatment may include:

    Stopping any medications that slow the heart rate.

  • Diagnosing and treating any underlying conditions.

  • Medication to temporarily increase your heart rate.

  • An artificial pacemaker to establish and maintain a normal heart rhythm.

Preventive measures:

    Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • Eat a low-fat, low-salt diet.

  • Get regular exercise. Your doctor can tell you what level of exercise is safe for you.

  • Quit smoking, if you smoke.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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