A bradycardia is a heart rate slower than normal (less than 60 beats per minute). It can be caused by a medication or it can result from a malfunction in the heart’s normal electrical pathway. The malfunction can occur anywhere along the pathway, including:

  • The SA node – the heart’s natural pacemaker
  • The AV node – the gateway for all signals before they get to the ventricles or the lower chambers of the heart
  • The pathways below the AV node that carry the signal to the ventricles

When the heart rate is too slow, the heart does not pump enough blood through the body. A person with bradycardia may or may not have symptoms. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nearly passing out (near syncope)
  • Passing out (syncope)

Your doctor may want to monitor your bradycardia. You may need a pacemaker to treat your symptoms or prevent your heart from beating too slowly or stopping.

Patient education – video links

Bradycardia Select Bradycardia from the dropdown menu.
Heart block
 Select Heart Block from the dropdown menu.

Patient education – narrative information

Heart block (American College of Cardiology)
Heart block
(Heart Rhythm Society)