What is Bradycardia and what causes it?
Bradycardia can be defined as a heart rate that is slower than the normal heart rate. The normal heart rate of adults at rest is between 60 and 100 times a minute. For those who have bradycardia, the heart beats fewer than 60 times a minute. This can turn into a serious problem if the heart does not end up pumping enough of oxygen-rich blood to the body. Every person with this condition may not display symptoms but for some the following symptoms apply.
What are the symptoms of bradycardia?
The common symptoms to watch out for are ear-fainting or fainting, fatigue, chest pain, confusion, memory issues, dizziness, light-headedness, shortness of breath, getting tired easily post physical activity and so on.
Causes of bradycardia
The heart has four chambers which consist of two upper chambers known as atria and two lower called ventricles. A natural pacemaker or the sinus node is located in the right atrium and this controls the heart rhythm by generating electrical impulses that trigger each heartbeat. These then send electrical signals that are key to the functioning of the heart. When these signals slow down, the result is bradycardia.
For many people, bradycardia originates in the sinus node. This could be because it may discharge electrical impulses that are slower than is normal, pauses or fails to meet the regular rate of discharge or even if it discharges an electrical impulse that gets blocked before the atria contract.
Heart blocks are also a cause for bradycardia as in this case electrical signals transmitted through the atria are not transmitted to the ventricles.
The key risk factors for bradycardia are high blood pressure, smoking, heavy consumption of alcohol use, usage of recreational drugs, and psychological stress or anxiety.