There are several types of slow heart rates (bradycardias or bradyarrhythmias). Each type carries a specific risk of complications and treatment options. Some of the types are described here.
When a person has sinus bradycardia, the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute. This slow heart rate might be normal. This type of slow heart rate is often seen in healthy, athletic people.
During a sinus pause, the heart may miss one or more beats because its natural pacemaker fails to activate the electrical system throughout the rest of the heart.
Sick sinus syndrome happens when the normal pacemaker of the heart (the sinus node) does not work properly. Various irregular heart rates (arrhythmias) or combinations of arrhythmias can happen. People with this syndrome can have slow arrhythmias or a combination of fast and slow arrhythmias.
For more information, see Sick Sinus Syndrome.
In tachy-brady syndrome, also called tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome, the heart sometimes beats too quickly (tachy) and sometimes beats too slowly (brady). This abnormal heart rhythm problem is often seen in people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. It can occur when the heart's natural pacemaker is damaged.
Heart block refers to an abnormality in the way electricity passes through the normal electrical pathways of the heart. The abnormality "blocks" the electrical impulse from continuing through the normal pathways and usually results in a slower heart rate.
For more information, see Heart Block.
Other Works Consulted
- Olgin JE, Zipes DP (2012). Specific arrhythmias: Diagnosis and treatment. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 771–824. Philadelphia: Saunders.
- Vijayaraman P, Ellenbogen KA (2011). Bradyarrhythmias and pacemakers. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., pp. 1025–1057. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology|
|Last Revised||June 2, 2011|
Last Revised: June 2, 2011
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.