When it comes to elderly patients, a slow heart rate may be normal—or risky. Rates as low as 40 beats/minute may be normal and simply result from a decreased response to either epinephrine or beta-adrenergic stimulation. Or such slow rates may result from a dangerous arrhythmia.
When the heart does not operate as it is supposed to and develops an abnormally slow heart rate that is less than 60 beats per minute, the condition is known as bradycardia. Bradycardia can be life threatening if the heart is unable to maintain a rate that pumps enough oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Potential medical causes of a slow heart rate include:
When bradycardia is more severe, you may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and fainting. If severe bradycardia goes untreated, it could lead to cardiac arrest, meaning the heart stops beating, and that can lead to death.
Ways to get your heart rate up
Dehydration, Heart Rate, and Heart Health The amount of blood circulating through your body, or blood volume, decreases when you are dehydrated. To compensate, your heart beats faster, increasing your heart rate and causing you to feel palpitations.
If you’re sitting down and feeling calm, your heart shouldn’t beat more than about 100 times per minute. A heartbeat that’s faster than this, also called tachycardia, is a reason to come to the emergency department and get checked out. We often see patients whose hearts are beating 160 beats per minute or more.
Adults and children who have a low pulse and experience severe symptoms, such as chest pain or fainting, should also go to the hospital. A person should see a doctor for bradycardia when: they experience an unexplained change in heart rate that lasts for several days.
If you have bradycardia, your resting heart rate is slower than usual—beating fewer than 50 times per minute. Bradycardia can be harmless, but in some cases it can be life-threatening.
Choose a healthy, low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of developing heart disease. Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
Bradycardia treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication changes or an implanted device called a pacemaker. If an underlying health problem, such as thyroid disease or sleep apnea, is causing the slower than normal heartbeat, treatment of that condition might correct bradycardia.
A normal resting heart rate for most people is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). A resting heart rate slower than 60 bpm is considered bradycardia.
omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, lean meats, nuts, grains, and legumes. phenols and tannins, found in tea, coffee, and red wine (in moderation) vitamin A, found in most leafy, green vegetables. dietary fiber, found in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and most fruits and vegetables.
The normal range is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is above 100, it’s called tachycardia; below 60, and it’s called bradycardia. Increasingly, experts pin an ideal resting heart rate at between 50 to 70 beats per minute.