Bradycardia | Heart and Vascular

Heart and Vascular Care


You’re in good hands with our expert heart team. We will assess your bradycardia and figure out next steps together.

Medically reviewed by Sandhya Venugopal, M.D. on May 25, 2023.

Older man sitting while female health care provider listens to his heart with stethoscope.

Understanding Bradycardia

Bradycardia is a slow heart rate, meaning your resting heart rate is lower than 60 beats per minute (BPM). The hearts of adults at rest usually beat between 60 and 100 times a minute.

Sometimes bradycardia is normal and doesn’t cause symptoms or complications. For instance, when you sleep or if you are an athlete, your resting heart rate may fall below 60 BPM. 

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Symptoms of Bradycardia

When your heart rate is too slow, your heart may not pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.

Common Symptoms

Some common symptoms of bradycardia that you may experience include: 

  • Fatigue or weakness 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Mental confusion  
  • Fainting (syncope) or near-fainting 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Fatigue during exercise or with physical exertion 
  • Chest pain 

Emergency Symptoms

You should call 911 immediately if you experience symptoms of a heart attack, such as: 

  • Discomfort in your upper body (arms, back, stomach, neck or jaw) 
  • Chest pain or pressure 
  • Collapse and sudden cardiac arrest 
  • Nausea or vomiting  

Bradycardia Diagnosis and Testing

Your physician will ask about your symptoms and history. They will also do a thorough physical examination, including taking your pulse and listening to your heart.

Bradycardia is usually confirmed by an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which records your heart’s electrical activity.

Your physician may do an ECG in the office as well as have you wear a portable ECG, such as a Holter monitor, to record your heart rate for 24 hours.

Your physician may decide that you need additional tests like an exercise stress test which monitors your heart rate while you exercise.

Treatment of Bradycardia

Not all cases of bradycardia need treatment. Your treatment will depend on what is causing your bradycardia.


Your physician may prescribe medications to treat the underlying cause of your bradycardia. For example, if you have low thyroid hormones, you may need a medication supplement.

If your resting heart rate is so low that you’re about to go into cardiac arrest, you’ll likely need urgent treatment. Your physician may give you a medication, such as atropine, to increase the rate. 


If your physician feels that you will benefit from an implanted pacemaker, you will discuss that option together.

A pacemaker is a small device that helps keep your heart beating at a normal rate and rhythm. The device uses sensors that are threaded and implanted in your heart through a catheter.

The most common reasons why you might need an implanted pacemaker are either a problem with your heart’s natural pacemaker (SA node) or a block in your heart’s electrical system that controls your heartbeat, known as a heart block. There may be other reasons that your physician would discuss with you. 

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