Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Summary: Bradycardia -- a slower than normal heartbeat -- does not increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to a study. The heart usually beats between 60 and times a minute in an adult at rest. But with bradycardia, the heart beats fewer than 50 times a minute.
The condition can cause light-headedness, shortness of breath, fainting or chest pain due to the heart not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood through the body. The study is published in the Jan. However, until now, there had not been any research to determine if a slow heart rate contributed to the development of cardiovascular disease.
This study, which was sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, included men and women ages 45 to 84 who did not have cardiovascular disease when first recruited into this study, but who may have been on heart rate-modifying medications frequently used to treat hypertension. Study participants were followed for more than 10 years to monitor cardiovascular events and mortality.
The researchers found that a heart rate HR of less than 50 was not associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease in participants regardless of whether they were taking HR-modifying drugs, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. However, the study did show a potential association between bradycardia and higher mortality rates in individuals taking HR-modifying drugs.
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Journal Reference: Alain G. Bertoni, MD et al.