What could be causing my slow heart rate and what should I do?

I have been diagnosed with bradycardia. At times my heart rate is in the low 40’s and low 50’s. I have very little energy. I used to be very active. I am 63 years old and I can do only small amounts of physical activity now…I get very winded and cannot do physical tasks. I saw a heart electrician and he thinks I have sleep apnea. I am now wearing a mask to sleep and after 60 consecutive days my heart rate is still low. Things have not changed. The slow heart rate is not detected when EKG’s are done…the slow rate is not constant…happens without warning or reason. I can feel when it happens. My chest feels strange when the heart rate slows. What could be wrong? And what should I do…see another doctor?

Submitted by Rebecca from North Carolina on 12/03/2013

by J. Alberto Lopez, MD

Symptomatic Bradycardia may sometimes be due to drugs that decrease heart rate or prevent it from increasing to the required level. Your medication list should be reviewed with your doctor. If there are no external causes for the low heart rate, the solution may be a pacemaker to increase your baseline heart rate with the capability of increasing heart rate with exercise. This is called “activity rate response”.