Slow Heart Rhythms
Each day, a normal heart contracts 60 to 100 times a minute. Abnormally slow heart rates are typically slower than 60 beats a minute. These slow heart rhythms are known as bradycardias.
Sometimes, such rhythms are completely normal and a sign of a healthy heart. In other cases, however, this is dangerous and the sign of a life-threatening condition. Selecting a cardiologist with expertise in diagnosing and treating arrhythmias is critical. Meet our electrophysiologists.
- Syncope (fainting)
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise limitation
- Less activity
Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to diagnose bradycardia:
- Electrocardiogram. An ECG (or EKG) records the electrical activity of the heart and can reveal abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias). Learn more about ECGs.
- Stress test.
- Holter monitor or Mobile Outpatient Cardiac Telemetry. These devices measure and record heart rhythms over time. Typically, you wear the device under your clothing for anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Learn more about the Holter monitor.
- Tilt table test. During this test, you lie on a table that moves from side to side. We record your blood pressure and pulse as the table is tilted. This test will sometimes show an arrhythmia that contributes to syncope.
- Electrophysiology (EP) study. During an electrophysiology study, your doctor examines the electrical activity within your heart with electrode-tipped catheters. We insert the catheters into a vein in the thigh, advance it to the heart under X-ray guidance and then take measurements of the heart’s electrical activity. This study can identify how healthy the heart’s electrical system is and whether we need to do further therapy (such as a pacemaker, ICD, ablation procedure or medical treatment).
Where to go from here?Next Topic: Fast Heart Rhythms
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