Understand Your Condition
Signs and Symptoms
For some people, a slow heart rate is normal and never causes any symptoms.
But if your heart beats slowly enough that your brain and other organs don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, your body may quickly tell you something is awry.
Symptoms may include:
- Feeling dizzy, weak or lightheaded
- Tiring easily
- Being short of breath, especially with exertion
- Confusion or difficulty focusing
- Heart palpitations or flutters
- Limited ability to exercise
- Chest pain, which may signal reduced blood flow to the heart
Call 911 if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or faint
It’s very important to tell your doctor how you’re feeling — even if symptoms are mild. The way a slow heart rate affects your ability to do things will help determine if and when you need a pacemaker or other advanced treatment. These symptoms could also be caused by aging or other medical conditions such as anemia or hypothyroidism (a thyroid that doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone).
If untreated, bradycardia can lead to complications, including congestive heart failure, stroke and, in some cases, sudden death. So if you have concerns, speak up.
Published: November 2018
Medical Reviewers: Mikhael F. El-Chami, MD, FACC; Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC