What Is Asymptomatic Bradycardia?

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  • Written By: Steven Symes
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2016
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Asymptomatic bradycardia is condition in which a person has bradycardia, or a slow heart beat, without any of the classic symptoms of bradycardia. Normally, patients with bradycardia suffer from dizziness, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and lightheadedness that help health care professionals diagnose their condition. With asymptomatic bardycardia, the only way to tell that a patient has the condition is to measure his resting heart rate.

For a patient to be diagnosed with bradycardia, his resting heart rate must measure below a certain number of beats per minute. Technically, a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute means a patient can have bradycardia, but if the patient’s resting heart rate does not dip below between 55 and 50 beats per minute, he usually does not show any symptoms of bradycardia.

Patients who are asymptomatic and have a resting heart rate of 55 or fewer beats per minute typically never require the use of a pacemaker. Some medical researchers even theorize that asymptomatic bradycardia for such patients indicates cardiovascular health. People who exercise regularly might have a lower resting heart rate due to a stronger and more efficient cardiovascular system, requiring the heart to pump less to achieve the same results.


The risks of asymptomatic bradycardia are typically not as severe as those of normal bradycardia. Still, bradycardia presents the risk that the heart and other organs in a patient’s body will not receive sufficient oxygen. Insufficient oxygen levels can in turn result in organ failure, including cardiac arrest, and possibly death.

As with other forms of bradycardia, asymptomatic bradycardia can be caused by several things. Cardiac causes of the condition include vascular heart disease, degenerative primary electrical disease and several neurological disorders. Non-cardiac causes normally are secondary causes of bradycardia. Some non-cardiac causes can include electrolyte imbalance in a patient’s blood, narcotics abuse and problems with the patient’s metabolism.

Treatment of asymptomatic bradycardia differs from that of symptomatic bradycardia. Since asymptomatic patients normally have sufficient oxygen saturations in their blood, no treatments for the condition are typically recommended by doctors. The doctor likely will want to monitor the patient’s condition on a regular basis, in the event the patient’s condition changes suddenly for the worse. If a patient who was asymptomatic begins to experience symptoms of bradycardia, he needs to contact his physician for advice and treatment, which might include implanting a pacemaker to control the patient’s resting heart rate.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - I agree it should be monitored, but if a person isn't having any symptoms, they should be all right. Bradycardia is fairly easy to spot if you know what you're looking for.

My mother started getting it and thought, at first, that she had just gotten very unfit. It turned out her heart just wasn't firing properly anymore and eventually they had to get her onto a pacemaker.

But, it was definitely something that she noticed very strongly. It can sneak up on you, but once you've got it the symptoms are pretty clear.

Post 2

@pleonasm - I've heard of that happening but I think it's extremely rare. Most people can get their heart rate up if they push themselves enough.

I'd be very cautious about this kind of thing. If you measure your resting heart rate and it's low, don't put off going to the doctor about it. It's true that it might be because you're very fit, but even then I think it's best to monitor it so that you find out.

Having a slow heart rate can cause you to start getting small amounts of brain damage, particularly if it slows down a lot at night. So it's not the kind of thing you want to muck around with.

Post 1

Apparently you can get to the point where your heart rate is normally so slow that it's difficult for doctors to get it up fast enough to measure it properly.

The normal way for them to check your heart rate is to get you on an exercise machine and check it that way, but if someone is a really good athlete, they can run for a while without making their heart rate go up to maximum. I imagine they probably have bradycardia when they are resting as well, but I don't know if it should be called that if it's normal for them.

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