Asymptomatic bradycardia is condition in which a person has bradycardia, or a slow heart beat, without any of the classic symptoms of bradycardia. Normally, patients with bradycardia suffer from dizziness, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and lightheadedness that help health care professionals diagnose their condition. With asymptomatic bardycardia, the only way to tell that a patient has the condition is to measure his resting heart rate.
For a patient to be diagnosed with bradycardia, his resting heart rate must measure below a certain number of beats per minute. Technically, a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute means a patient can have bradycardia, but if the patient’s resting heart rate does not dip below between 55 and 50 beats per minute, he usually does not show any symptoms of bradycardia.
Patients who are asymptomatic and have a resting heart rate of 55 or fewer beats per minute typically never require the use of a pacemaker. Some medical researchers even theorize that asymptomatic bradycardia for such patients indicates cardiovascular health. People who exercise regularly might have a lower resting heart rate due to a stronger and more efficient cardiovascular system, requiring the heart to pump less to achieve the same results.
The risks of asymptomatic bradycardia are typically not as severe as those of normal bradycardia. Still, bradycardia presents the risk that the heart and other organs in a patient’s body will not receive sufficient oxygen. Insufficient oxygen levels can in turn result in organ failure, including cardiac arrest, and possibly death.
As with other forms of bradycardia, asymptomatic bradycardia can be caused by several things. Cardiac causes of the condition include vascular heart disease, degenerative primary electrical disease and several neurological disorders. Non-cardiac causes normally are secondary causes of bradycardia. Some non-cardiac causes can include electrolyte imbalance in a patient’s blood, narcotics abuse and problems with the patient’s metabolism.
Treatment of asymptomatic bradycardia differs from that of symptomatic bradycardia. Since asymptomatic patients normally have sufficient oxygen saturations in their blood, no treatments for the condition are typically recommended by doctors. The doctor likely will want to monitor the patient’s condition on a regular basis, in the event the patient’s condition changes suddenly for the worse. If a patient who was asymptomatic begins to experience symptoms of bradycardia, he needs to contact his physician for advice and treatment, which might include implanting a pacemaker to control the patient’s resting heart rate.