For most adults, a healthy heart has a steady beat and a resting rate between 60-100 beats per hour (BPM).
Bradyarrhythmia is a condition where your heart beats at 60 BPM or less and doesn’t beat from the sinus node. This is the natural pacemaker for the heart. This can cause blood flow problems in the brain and other organs, including fainting.
Bradyarrhythmias can also be described as a number of different types. There are many symptoms that can occur, from mild to severe. After diagnosing bradyarrhythmia, you can create a treatment plan. This may include lifestyle changes and implantable devices.
What are the different types of bradyarrhythmias?
There are two types of bradyarrhythmia, sinus node dysfunction or atrioventricular block.
- Sinus node dysfunction
The sinus node (right atria) is a group of cells located in the upper right-hand chamber of the heart. It is the heart’s natural pacemaker, and regulates the electrical system of the heart to maintain a steady rhythm.
Multiple disorders can lead to the sinus node failing, which could cause irregular heart rhythms and a slower heart beat.
- Blocks of AV
The AV node, a collection of cells that acts as an electrical relay station between your upper and lower chambers, controls your heart rate.
If the electrical signal controlling your heart rate becomes partially or totally blocked, your heart rate may slow down or begin to beat irregularly. This is called an AV block, or a heart block.
There are several ways that the AV node could be blocked:
- First degree heart block. This is the mildest form of heart block. In this case, electrical impulses travel slower than normal from the ventricles to the AV node.
- Second degree heart block. Type I: The impulses slow down so that the heart skips one beat. Type II: Some impulses don’t reach the ventricles, and an arrhythmia develops.
- Third degree heart block. Third degree heart block occurs when the impulses from the ventricles become blocked, which can cause a slow, irregular heartbeat and compromise the ability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet its needs.
- A pacemaker is an electrically-charged device that is placed under the skin of the chest to regulate heartbeats. It can be used for second and third-degree heart block.
What causes bradyarrhythmia?
A common cause of sick sinus syndrome and AV blockage is heart disease. The aging process and the damage that the years can do to the heart’s electrical system is also a major factor.
Other risk factors that bradyarrhythmia could be caused by include:
- Infections or other inflammatory conditions of heart muscle
- Heart surgery recovery
- Side effects of medications that treat high blood pressure and other arrhythmias
You can also inherit genes that increase your risk of bradyarrhythmia. A 2016 study found that there’s still much to be learned about inherited bradyarrhythmia, as well as other causes.
What are the signs of bradyarrhythmia
Bradyarrhythmia episodes may occur at any time. Treatment may not be necessary for mild or infrequent symptoms.
When symptoms become more obvious, they include:
- Feeling like your heart is slapping or out of tune
- A heart rate that is constanty slower than 60 BPM
- Sometimes you may have trouble breathing.
- Exercise intolerance
Is bradyarrhythmia considered an emergency?
You should seek immediate medical attention for sudden cardiac arrest, which is the loss of consciousness and heart function.
Bradyarrhythmia can also cause other emergency symptoms, such as:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- sudden weakness
- Shortness of breath is a sign that you are experiencing chest pains or other symptoms.