Understand Your Condition
Treatment will depend on how slow your heart rate is, what might be causing it and any complications. In some cases, bradycardia can result in fainting episodes, dangerous falls or even seizures and sudden death due to long pauses between heartbeats.
Some people may not need to do anything for their slow heart rate. For others, treatments may include:
- Treating an underlying condition(s)
- Adjusting or changing medications that may be causing dips in heart rate.
- Pacemaker (usually if there is irreversible damage to the heart’s electrical system and in older people)
Lifestyle changes are key for managing any heart condition.
Your goals for treatment matter, too. Be sure to tell your doctor about your values and what you prefer for treatment.
Simple Steps to Take Your Pulse
It’s a good idea to be able to check how many times your heart beats each minute.
Here are some quick tips on taking your own pulse. You can also ask your clinician to show you how to take it.
- Extend one arm with the palm of your hand facing up.
- Use your first (index) and middle fingers on your other hand to press the inside of your wrist near the base of your thumb (just below the palm of your hand).
- Press lightly until you can feel the beating of your pulse.
- If you have trouble finding it, try pressing a little harder or adjust where you are pressing.
- Once you can feel your pulse consistently, look at a clock and count the number of pulses you feel in 10 seconds. Take that number and multiply it by 6.
Remember that your heart rate is affected by what you’re doing (for example, resting or exercising). You should ideally rest before taking your pulse.
Published: November 2018
Medical Reviewers: Mikhael F. El-Chami, MD, FACC; Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC