Bradycardia | Symptoms | MedStar Health
Amanda Beirne and Dr Sung Lee visit a patient who is recovering at MedStar Health

Potential symptoms and causes of a slow heartbeat

A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. If your heart is beating fewer than 60 beats per minute, you might be experiencing bradycardia, a type of arrhythmia.

Although a slow heart rate may be considered normal for some young adults or athletes, it can be a serious health concern. The physicians in our Cardiac Electrophysiology Program are highly trained advanced subspecialists who manage even the most complex arrhythmias.

When your heart beats slowly, it may not pump enough oxygenated blood through your body. This can cause symptoms including:

Age is the major risk factor for bradycardia, but people of all ages who have heart tissue damage caused by heart disease or heart attack may experience the condition. Certain types of medication used to treat heart conditions also may lower your heart rate. See your doctor right away if you think you are experiencing this condition.


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An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart. 

Electrophysiology Testing

Electrophysiology testing is used to evaluate the cause and location of an abnormal heartbeat (known as an arrhythmia).

Event Monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter Monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Loop Recorder

A loop recorder is a device that’s implanted underneath the skin of your chest to record your heart rhythm for up to 3 years.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Tilt Table Test

Tilt table testing allows your doctor to determine the cause of explained fainting while monitoring changes in your blood pressure and heart rate while tilted at different angles.


Our heart and vascular teams work together and with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to treat bradycardia. This could include lifestyle modifications, medication, or more advanced treatments.


A pacemaker is a device that helps control various types of heart rhythm disorders.

Additional information

Electrophysiology program

We are leaders in developing and using the latest procedures and technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders, and our cardiac electrophysiology laboratory is one of the most sophisticated in North America.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.