Bradycardia is a slowdown in heart rate, as a result of taking certain medications or underlying conditions. Generally not important, redundant bradycardia must be managed appropriately.
Definition of bradycardia
Bradycardia is a cardiac rhythm disorder that describes an abnormally low heart rate. Either a heart rate lower than 60 bpm. This decrease in heart rate can be the result of an anomaly in the sinus nodule or anomaly in the circuit of electrical signals along the heart muscle (myocardium).
Sinus bradycardia is usually perceived and felt in athletes or as part of a deep relaxation of the body. In another context, it may be a health consequence, for patients with heart defects or after taking certain drugs.
The severity of the bradycardia and the associated medical treatment depend directly on the area of the heart affected. In the majority of cases, temporary bradycardia does not present the need for prompt and immediate management. In fact, a weakening of the heart rhythm can occur as part of a good general state of health, or in response to a relaxation of the body.
In other cases, it may also be a deterioration of the myocardium , especially with age, in the context of coronary diseases or the taking of certain drugs (particularly arrhythmia treatments or for high blood pressure).
The heart works through a muscular system and an electrical system. The conduction of electrical signals, passing through the atria (upper parts of the heart) and through the ventricles (lower parts of the heart). These electrical signals allow a contraction of the heart muscle, in a regular and coordinated way: it is the heart rate.
As part of the “normal” operation of the heart, the electrical pulse then comes from the sinus nodule, the right atrium. This sinus nodule is responsible for the heart rate, its frequency. He then plays the role of pacemaker.
The heart rate, also known as heart rate, of a healthy adult, is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bbm).
Causes of bradycardia
Bradycardia can be caused by a deterioration of the heart with age, cardiovascular disease or taking certain medications.
Who is affected by bradycardia?
Every person can be affected by bradycardia. This can be punctual or over a longer period, depending on the case.
Athletes may be faced with bradycardia. But also in the context of a state of relaxation of the body (relaxation).
Elderly individuals as well as patients taking certain medications are, however, more at risk for bradycardia.
Evolution and possible complications of bradycardia
Bradycardia usually develops over a short period of time, with no additional deleterious effects.
Nevertheless, in the context of a redundant and / or persistent bradycardia, it is necessary to consult the doctor as soon as possible. Indeed, in this context, an underlying cause may be the origin and it must be supported to limit any risk of complications.
Symptoms of bradycardia
Certain types of bradycardia do not cause any visible and felt symptoms. Other forms can then lead to physical and cognitive weakness, vertigo, and even discomfort (syncope).
Different levels of bradycardia are to be differentiated:
- The first degree of bradycardia (Type 1) is defined by chronic bradycardia and is similar to a completely upset heart rhythm. In this context, implantation of a pacemaker (replacing the function of the sinus nodule) is recommended.
- The second degree (Type 2), corresponds to impulses, since the sinus nodule, disturbed to a greater or lesser extent. This type of bradycardia is usually the consequence of an underlying pathology. The pacemaker can also be an alternative in this case.
- The third degree (Type 3) is then a lower level of severity of bradycardia. It is particularly due to the taking of certain drugs or the consequence of underlying diseases. The heartbeat being abnormally low, the patient feels a feeling of weakness. Restoring the heart rate is usually fast and requires only medication. Nevertheless, implantation of a pacemaker may be necessary in extreme cases.
Management of bradycardia
The options for managing bradycardia depend on its level of importance. Stopping the drug intake, causing this dysfunction, is the first step. The identification of the source as well as its management is the second (case of an underlying disease, for example). Finally, the implantation of a permanent pacemaker is the last.