Last month we posted a piece on the SA node and its job as the pacemaker for the heart’s rhythm. But what happens when that rhythm being set by the SA node is too slow? This is a condition called bradycardia, and it can be caused by, and lead to, very serious health problems.
What is a Healthy Heart Rate?
A healthy heart beat is between 60-80 beats per minute (approx. 5 liters of blood) when you are not physically exerting yourself. The SA node generates and sends an electrical impulse through your heart, causing it to contract and pump blood throughout your body.
If the SA node sends pulses at less than 60 beats per minute, or if there is a poor connection between the SA node and the AV node, this will cause your heart to beat at a much slower rate, which decreases the amount of blood being sent to the vital parts of your body.
Symptoms of Bradycardia
Because not enough blood is reaching the rest of your body, symptoms of bradycardia often include fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath during even the most routine activities. This is often misdiagnosed by those experiencing it, because it happens gradually rather than suddenly. People often think that they are simply getting older and more easily fatigued, rather than correctly recognizing that they are experiencing a serious heart condition.
Bradycardia can be recognized on an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) which is a painless test that views the electrical patterns of your heart. Most often, bradycardia is treated with a pacemaker – a small device surgically placed in the chest to monitor and correct heart rhythms. Bradycardia is most often present among the elderly and more than 600,000 people worldwide receive treatment for bradycardia each year.
If your primary care doctor recommends that you see a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, make an appointment with Sarasota’s leading heart doctor. Dr. Mathew, the premier electrophysiologist in Sarasota, has been performing AF ablation in the Tampa Bay area since 2004, specializing in lead extraction and implanting pacemakers and defibrillators. If you want to see why the hearts of Tampa Bay are in great hands, contact us today.