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    Causes And Treatment For Bradycardia

    Bradycardia is a condition that causes your heart to beat more slowly than expected, under 60 beats per minute. This is the opposite of supraventricular tachycardia, which causes the heart to beat too fast. Bradycardia is considered an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, and in many people it does not cause symptoms.

    Risk Factors For Bradycardia

    There are certain circumstances that provide an increased risk of developing bradycardia. These include being over the age of 65, as this condition causes symptoms in about 1 in every 600 adults in this age group. However, the amount of adults who experience bradycardia with no symptoms is likely to be much higher. Bradycardia typically affects older adults during sleep.

    The other main risk factor for bradycardia is those who have high levels of physical activity. These people may develop bradycardia due to their good physical shape, as their hearts may pump blood more efficiently and meet their body’s needs at a slow heart rate, so extra exertion is unnecessary.

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    Causes Of Bradycardia

    There are many things that can cause the irregular heartbeat associated with bradycardia. These causes include electrolyte deficiencies, anorexia nervosa, inflammation such as myocarditis or endocarditis, infections, radiation therapy, heart surgery, and drugs.

    Bradycardia can also be due to conditions such as Lyme disease, Chagas disease, sick sinus syndrome, rheumatic fever and rheumatic infections, and heart block. Other possible causes can be heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease, muscular dystrophy, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothermia, hypothyroidism, and sleep apnea.

    Testing For Bradycardia

    To determine if you are experiencing bradycardia, your doctor will start with a physical exam and tests that measure your heart rate and examine your heart rhythm. The most likely test used to diagnose bradycardia is an electrocardiogram (EKG), as this is used to track your heart’s electrical activity with precision. This test involves electrodes stuck to the skin of your chest that detect the electrical signals your heart is sending. Other tests that may be ordered include lab tests, as these can rule out possible causes of bradycardia.

    Lab tests that can be used will typically test your electrolyte levels and thyroid hormone levels. Your doctor may also test your troponin levels, which is a protein specific to the cells of your heart muscle. Damage to these cells can cause troponin to leak into your blood, which can indicate heart problems. You may also be given a toxicology screen.

    Treatment For Bradycardia

    If you are suffering from bradycardia without experiencing any symptoms, it’s likely that you may not require any treatment. For people who do experience symptoms, bradycardia is usually treatable and in some cases can even be cured. There are multiple ways to treat bradycardia, which may involve treating the underlying cause of the condition as well.

    Medication is used to treat bradycardia if it is causing significant problems such as dangerously low blood pressure. In these cases, doctors will administer an intravenous or injectable medication that can cause your heart to beat faster. Receiving these medications usually requires a hospital stay as patients must be monitored during treatment. However, you may also be prescribed daily oral medications that are used to improve heart function.

    Temporary cardiac pacing is another form of treatment that may be required. This involves attaching a device with electrical contacts to the skin of your chest. These contacts allow a mild electrical current to course through your body and cause your heart to beat. This is an effective treatment for those whose bradycardia is acute, but for those with long term issues, they may require a permanent pacemaker.

    A permanent pacemaker is a highly effective method of treating bradycardia, especially for those whose condition is caused by other medical problems such as sick sinus syndrome. A permanent pacemaker does not cure bradycardia, but it is a long term solution of effectively managing it.

    Symptoms Of Bradycardia

    Although many people experience bradycardia with no symptoms, there are a few symptoms that can develop from lack of blood flow to the brain and other organs. These symptoms include dizziness or lightheadedness, confusion or difficulty concentrating, fainting, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Since these symptoms are common to many different medical conditions, especially heart issues, it’s crucial to get tested to determine the exact cause of your symptoms.

    Prevention Of Bradycardia

    In many cases, prevention of bradycardia is not possible. This is especially true for those who develop bradycardia due to old age or physical activity, as these are natural occurrences. Bradycardia is only preventable in situations where it is caused by outlying factors, such as recreational drug use, infections, and anorexia nervosa. In these cases, receiving treatment for these issues will help to prevent the development of bradycardia.

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    Invasive therapies may also be used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm, such as electrical cardioversion which sends electrical impulses through your chest wall and allows normal heart rhythm to restart, or catheter ablation which disconnects the pathway of the abnormal rhythm. If your doctor determines that electrical devices are the best course of action, you may be given a permanent pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), or biventricular (B-V) pacemakers and defibrillators.

    How CVG Can Help

    CVG offers a variety of services that can check and treat abnormal heart rhythms. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
    A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.
    An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
    A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
    We also offer cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into the heart in order to take pictures and conduct tests. This procedure allows doctors to gain more information about your condition and suggest treatment options.


    If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions to fix several conditions. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.

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