Why is my heartbeat so weak

Bradycardia

Bradycardia: description

In bradycardia, the heart beats too slowly. The normal heart rate is 60 beats per minute. Sometimes bradycardia only manifests itself when the heart rate does not increase sufficiently during exercise. Dizziness and shortness of breath can set in.

The electrical impulses for a heartbeat are usually generated in the sinus node. From there, they are passed through the so-called AV node into the heart chambers, where the heart muscle cells then contract. Bradycardia can occur if too few electrical impulses are formed in the sinus node (sinus bradycardia), their transmission is disturbed (for example in the case of a so-called bundle branch block) or other cardiac arrhythmias prevent a faster heart rate.

The heart beats too slowly

The AV node can also generate 40 to 50 electrical impulses per minute. He steps in when the sinus node fails. If these electrical impulses from the AV node can no longer be passed on, the heart muscle cells are also still able to generate a few impulses. The heart rate is then extremely low. However, the body's circulatory system is not able to get by with frequencies of around 20 to 30 beats per minute for long.

In sinus bradycardia, too few electrical impulses are generated in the sinus node. The heartbeat is slow but regular. Sometimes bradycardias even occur in the unborn or newborn. During childbirth, the unborn baby's heart rate may decrease during labor. In apnea bradycardia syndrome, premature babies often suffer from shortness of breath and a slow heartbeat.

Bradycardia: symptoms

Often times, bradycardia does not cause symptoms. Athletes, for example, do not feel that their heart beats more slowly than in non-athletes when they are resting. Sometimes the heart rate is so low that less blood is pumped into the body. As a result, the oxygen demand, especially of the brain, can no longer be adequately met. Headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting can result.

Bradycardia: causes and risk factors

Bradycardia can have many causes. Sinus bradycardia is harmless in athletes. Sometimes the heart rhythm slows down when taking certain medications. In particular, drugs that have to be taken because of other arrhythmias show this side effect. In some cases, they must then be discontinued or their dose reduced.

A variety of heart diseases (e.g. myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation) can trigger bradycardia. Sometimes an underactive thyroid or potassium deficiency are also responsible.

The Deadliest Heart Diseases

  • Particularly dangerous heart diseases

    Heart attack, sudden cardiac death, atrial fibrillation - most people in Germany die as a result of heart disease. Read here which complaints they cause and which heart diseases are particularly dangerous.
  • coronary heart desease

    Six million Germans have coronary heart disease (CHD). It is the cause of many other heart diseases such as heart failure, heart attacks or sudden cardiac death. In CHD, the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with oxygen "calcify". In medical terms, it is arteriosclerosis of the coronary arteries. The result is insufficient blood flow and the associated lack of oxygen in some parts of the heart muscle.
  • Angina pectoris

    Angina means something like chest tightness. Typical of this are sudden pain in the heart area and a feeling of tightness, burning or pressure in the chest. It is not a disease in its own right, but a major symptom of coronary artery disease. If you experience sudden chest pain, you should call an emergency doctor immediately. Because only a doctor can determine whether it is possibly a heart attack.
  • Heart attack

    112 - a heart attack is always an emergency. It occurs when a blood vessel in the heart becomes blocked by a blood clot. Within a very short time, the heart muscle is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. If it is not possible to open the closed vessel again within a very short time, the area supplied by this vessel threatens to perish. Every year around 280,000 Germans suffer a heart attack. The main cause is CHD.
  • Heart failure

    Around 1.8 million people in Germany suffer from cardiac insufficiency, also known as heart failure. In this disease, the pumping capacity of the heart muscle is weakened. Then the entire body is no longer adequately supplied with blood and oxygen. In the advanced stage, the patient gets breathless even with low exertion, water retention and a feeling of weakness come on top of this. The most common causes of heart failure are CHD and high blood pressure.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

    If the heart gets out of sync, one speaks of cardiac arrhythmias. The heart then beats too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. There are many causes. However, coronary heart disease is particularly common.
  • Atrial fibrillation

    With atrial fibrillation, the heart beats irregularly. This is the most common form of a disturbed heart rhythm: a million Germans suffer from it - but more than half do not notice it. Some feel a palpitations or palpitations and suffer from dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or feelings of anxiety. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to cardiac insufficiency. Above all, however, clots form in the heart with atrial fibrillation - then there is a risk of a stroke.
  • Racing heart

    Palpitations, also called tachycardia by doctors, is a cardiac arrhythmia in which the heart beats very quickly over a long period of time - more than 100 beats per minute. Various diseases can make the heart beat faster, including atrial fibrillation, CHD and high blood pressure. If your heart continues to beat too fast, see a doctor. Because palpitations can also cause sudden cardiac death.
  • Bradycardia

    The counterpart to tachycardia is bradycardia. The heart beats too slowly here: the heart rate is below 60 beats per minute. Sometimes the heart rate is so low that too little blood is pumped into the body. As a result, the oxygen demand, especially of the brain, can no longer be adequately met. Headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting can result.
  • Ventricular fibrillation

    Ventricular fibrillation is an often fatal cardiac arrhythmia. It occurs when the electrical signals that control the work of the heart are severely disturbed. Then frequencies of up to 800 signals per minute can occur - an effective heartbeat is then no longer possible. The result: cardiac arrest and loss of consciousness. Only an immediate chest compressions followed by defibrillation can save your life.
  • Sudden cardiac death

    Sudden cardiac death suddenly kills a person from life. 100,000 to 200,000 people in Germany strive for this every year. It is always caused by a severe arrhythmia. The affected person suddenly becomes unconscious because their brain is no longer supplied with oxygen - it dies within a short time.
  • Of
    Medical editor and biologist

Bradycardia: examinations and diagnosis

If you feel your own pulse, you can partly feel the reduced heart rate. An electrocardiogram (EKG) is particularly important for diagnosing bradycardia. The cardiac currents are recorded by a recorder. Not only a slow heart rate, but also the cause can sometimes be detected in the EKG. Sometimes the ECG has to be recorded over 24 hours or even longer in order to record the arrhythmia.

Read more about the examinations

Find out here which examinations can be useful for this disease:

Bradycardia: treatment

A slow heartbeat does not always have to be treated. When symptoms occur and the heartbeat becomes dangerously slow (less than 40 beats per minute), therapy is most often needed. The pacemaker implantation is particularly important Bradycardia in the foreground.

Read more about the therapies

Read more about therapies that can help here:

Bradycardia: disease course and prognosis

Bradycardia that has arisen from exercise has a good prognosis. It cannot be counted as a disease, but is a side effect of physical training. A heartbeat that is too slow, caused by other heart diseases, can be treated very well with a pacemaker. Most patients are symptom-free after the implantation. A Bradycardiathat is not treated often leads to cardiac insufficiency and other organ damage.

Author & source information