Low pulse rate in medical parlance is called bradycardia. Your pulse rate depends proportionately on your heart beats. Pulse rate is said to be in normal range between 60 to 100 beats per second. Anything below 60 beats per second is considered to be low pulse rate. Pulse rate can be low in a healthy individual, for example athletics have low pulse rate even though they are healthy. However, it can also be a sign of altered state of health.
Pulse rate can be low if impulses of your heart are functioning abnormally.You can measure your pulse rate by keeping two fingers on the radial artery at wrist joint. Other places for measuring pulse rate are in neck area over the carotid artery, in groin region over the femoral artery, and the feet on dorsalis pedis artery.
What Are The Causes Of Low Pulse Rate?
Normally your pulse rate has to be strong with regular beats. The time interval between two beats is equal. Low pulse rate means that your heart is beating at slow pace. A normal healthy individual can have low pulse rate as seen in athletics and sports person.However, it can also be a sign of disease. Your heart is not pumping enough amount of blood.
If slow pulse rate is accompanied with other symptoms such as fainting, giddiness, fatigue on slight exertion, you have to consult your physician as early as possible. Causes of low pulse rate related to diseases are as follows:
- Aging causes several changes in heart and walls of arteries. Low pulse rate is therefore common in aged individuals.
- Diseases of heart such as heart attack and ischemic coronary artery disease, inflammation of lining surrounding heart (endocarditis) can cause bradycardia.
- Electrolyte imbalance (raised potassium) and hypothyroidism can adversely affect electrical impulses of the heart.
- Drugs used for hypertension and heart diseases cause slow heart rate. Mainly drugs like beta blockers, and digoxin cause slowing of pulse rate.
- Stings and bites of animals and insects, anorexia nervosa can be a reson for bradycardia.
- Low pulse rate is present in a condition called hypothermia. It occurs when a person is exposed to severe freezing climate.
- Infectious fever such as typhoid, diphtheria, and influenza.
Low Pulse Rate Symptoms
The heart rate and pulse rate are synchronous. Low pulse rate itself is a sign of medical condition in many cases. It can be temporary or permanent. Often it is accompanied with other symptoms and signs of a particular health condition. Sometimes bradycardia is an indication of medical emergency. Some of the symptoms associated with slow pulse rate are:
- Fainting spells
- Pain in chest
- Pain in jaw
- Confused state of mind.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Momentary blurring of vision.
- Pale face, tongue, and skin.
- Low pulse rate accompanied with cyanosis.
Treatment Options For Low Pulse Rate
Treatment of low pulse rate depends on treatment of the underlying cause. It also depends if there are any other serious associated symptoms. In many cases if there are no associated symptoms treatment may not be needed. Low pulse rate caused due to diseased state, the goal is to raise the heart rate so that the body gets enough amount of blood that is needed.
- A person may need pace maker if his heart’s electrical system is damaged. Pace maker is a device inserted in heart which helps in correcting rate and rhythm of heart.
- Treating electrolyte imbalance and hypothyroidism can bring back normal pulse rate.
- If the underlying cause is medications, your doctor may reduce the dose or select other medicines that does not have low pulse rate as its side effect.