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,
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.
June 12, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
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