A heart rate of less than 50 beats per minute is usually considered a
slow heart rate (bradycardia). Well-trained athletes often have slow heart
rates, but this is not normal for most people.
A slow heart rate can cause lightheadedness, fainting, chest
discomfort, or shortness of breath because not enough blood is being pumped to
the rest of the body. A slow heart rate that is not causing other symptoms
usually is not serious. Slow heart rates that cause other symptoms are serious
and need to be evaluated by a health professional. A slow, irregular heart rate
that is different than your normal heart rate needs to be reported to your
health professional immediately.
If you have heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart
attack, it is especially important to understand how serious a slow heart rate
can be. This is especially true if it occurs with shortness of breath when you
are resting or after mild exertion. Call your health professional if you have a
sudden change in your usual heart rate or rhythm.
Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Primary Medical Reviewer
William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
April 27, 2007
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 27, 2007
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