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Slow heart rate (less than 50 beats per minute)

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.

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Heart Attacks Hit Middle-Aged Women

"I never thought it could happen to me." That's how Rose Rench reacted when doctors told her she was having a heart attack. At age 46, Rench was bewildered when she suddenly couldn't catch her breath while out for a walk on a sunny spring day. "I was young, I was 130 pounds, and I'd quit smoking a month before. I was healthy. But I couldn't breathe." Rench tells WebMD that she somehow drove herself home, but couldn't rest; her mind raced as she tried to gasp for breath. "I thought maybe I...

Read the Heart Attacks Hit Middle-Aged Women article > >

If you have heart disease, heart failure, or have had a heart attack, be sure you understand the seriousness of a change in your heart rate or rhythm.

Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Updated April 24, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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