Symptoms of bradycardia include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, fainting and shortness of breath, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition can also cause confusion, memory problems, chest pain and rapid tiring with exertion. Chest pain and shortness of breath that last longer than a few minutes and fainting require immediate medical evaluation.
Doctors define bradycardia as a resting heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute, notes WebMD. The condition can be normal in athletes and young, healthy people and cause no symptoms. In other cases, a problem with the electrical pathways of the heart or with the sinus node of the heart cause the condition. These problems can develop as a result of aging, endocarditis, hypothyroidism, an electrolyte imbalance or prescription medications. Significantly lowered heart rates can interfere with the heart's ability to pump blood in sufficient quantities to support bodily functions and can create life-threatening symptoms.
Doctors diagnose bradycardia by evaluating symptoms, performing a physical exam, and reviewing the patient's medical and family history, explains Mayo Clinic. Blood tests and the use of electrocardiogram monitoring during medical testing or normal daily activities can identify the specific cause of the condition and allow doctors to treat the underlying cause, which may include modifying medication dosages, prescribing alternative medications or implanting a pacemaker.