Low pulse rate varies by the age and physical condition of an individual, according to the American Heart Association. Generally a low pulse rate for adults is less than 60 beats per minute. Athletes who are extremely fit may have a pulse rate closer to 40, notes the Mayo Clinic.
A normal heart rate for adults is considered to be anything from 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to Mayo Clinic. A pulse rate closer to 60 usually implies better heart function, but a heart rate below 60 can be dangerous. Elderly people are more likely to have problems with bradycardia (heart rate of less than 60 bets per minute), notes the American Heart Association. Hypothyroidism, heart attack or heart damage are common causes of bradycardia. If untreated, bradycardia can result in high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
It is recommended that anyone with a consistent pulse rate that falls below 60 see a physician, according to Mayo Clinic. When the pulse rate is too low, symptoms such as fainting, dizziness and shortness of breath may occur. Some factors that may influence pulse rate are activity and fitness level, medications and emotions. Sitting up and lying down, body size and air temperature may also factor into pulse rate.