Simply put, it's a low heart rate. Bradycardia is defined as a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute, although a normal heart rate can be less than 60 beats a minute during sleep or in a highly fit athlete. It is seldom symptomatic until the rate drops below 50 beats per minute.
Symptoms can include:
Some people have no symptoms.
Causes can include:
Many people with bradycardia are living with heart disease and related conditions such as:
For some people the cause of bradycardia is unknown. Possible reasons can include:
If there are no symptoms, or if symptoms are mild and sporadic, treatment may not be required.
Some medications, including some drugs used to treat other heart conditions, can cause bradycardia. Your doctor will review the medications you're taking and if necessary may recommend changing drugs or lowering dosages.
If an underlying disorder, such as hypothyroidism, is causing the bradycardia, treatment of the disorder may be required to correct it.
A pacemaker may be required to regulate the heartbeat. When the pacemaker detects that the heart rate is too slow or the heart is not beating, it emits electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to speed up or resume beating.
For more information on brachychadia see the Mayo Clinic.