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   Slow Heart Beat

The speed at which the heart beats is determined by its own pacemaker (the sinoatrial node) in the right atrium.

During each heart beat electricity spreads from the sinoatrial node across the atria. The electricity reaches the main pumping chambers (the ventricles) by passing through the atrioventricular node.

The heart normally beats between about 50 and 70 times a minute when you are resting although it is sometimes slower in very fit people and as a result of certain drugs such as beta blockers. The heart rate should rise with exercise although the maximum heart rate varies considerably between people.

A slow heart beat can occur either because of a problem with the sinoatrial node (sometimes called sick sinus syndrome) or because electricity gets held up or blocked in the atrioventricular node (heart block)

A slow heart beat may cause no symptoms or may cause dizzy spells, blackouts, breathlessness or tiredness.

Treatment of excessively slow heart beats may include stopping or reducing the dose of any drugs that slow the heart beat and occasionally fitting a pacemaker.

 


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