Normal people have a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM) when awake, however whilst at rest or when asleep this pulse rate lowers to 40 BPM. Having a high pulse rate is termed as tachycardia; the term bradycardia refers to the direct opposite - meaning that your heart beats very slowly. For most people, as explained above, a heart rate of 60 to 100 BPM when active is considered normal. If your heart beats less than 60 BPM it could be bradycardia and you should consider seeking medical advice.
Bradycardia can be caused by:
- Changes in the heart due to the results of ageing.
- Diseases that damage the heart's electrical system. Some include coronary artery disease, heart attack and infections such as endocarditis.
- Conditions that can reduce electrical impulses through the heart ventricles (such as having a low thyroid level, 'hypothyroidism') or an electrolyte imbalance (such as a concentration of potassium in the blood).
- Some medicines in the treatment of heart issues or high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers, antiarrhythmics and digoxin.