Slow Pulse

Published: June 29, 2009

Q: I have been told that I have sinus bradycardia (heart rate of 40 to 50 beats per minute resting, sometimes below 40 while sleeping). I feel fine, no dizzy spells, good energy. I am 76. What should I be doing for this; is it life threatening?

A: Sinus bradycardia with rates as low as you describe can be a completely normal finding. I exercise a lot, and my heart rates are just about like yours. Well-conditioned athletes have resting heart rates in the 30s. Generally, we only treat sinus bradycardia (usually with a pacemaker implantation) if the individual is symptomatic from the slow rates. Since you say you are doing fine, I would recommend not doing anything except for following up with visits to your cardiologist maybe once or twice a year for a checkup. Should you experience dizziness, a lightheaded spell, or loss of consciousness, tell your doctor immediately because a pacemaker may be indicated at that time.

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