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Very slow heart rate,is this serious?
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Very slow heart rate,is this serious?

My husband is 66 years old and has always had a slow heart rate in the low 40s beats per min.  For many years he has been  jogging 5 miles on week days and and up to 10 miles on a Sat.   In the past 3 months or so his heart rate has been very slow 32-35 beats per min.  He has had stress tests in the past but his heart rate does not increase significantly and he does not feel well when he takes a sress test. His Dr. did a ekg which showed what he discribed as a fibrillation. His heart rate remains slow and although he does not get dizzy he is very tired all the time and feels that he is not getting enough air at times. Do these changes indicate serious heart disease? He is on a medication for hypothyroidism.  Should he have further tests done?
Thank you in advance for any advice.
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238668_tn?1232735930
If he is having symptoms with this heart rate he may eventually need a pacemaker.  Otherwise this is not that serious and the afib can be treated with medications.
5 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for the prompt answer to my query.  My husband's Dr. has scheduled testing with a holter, echo cardiogram, and a follow up with a local Cardiologist. Your answer will help to relieve the anxiety while waiting for these tests and results.
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238668_tn?1232735930
Let us know if there is anything else we can do.
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Avatar_n_tn
My husband is 36 years old, healthy, and has had a heart rate above 75 all of his adult life.  He recently started a new job requiring more physical exercise than he is used too, however his fatigue has been excessive for the past week.  Two days ago he began to experience a "flip flop" feeling in chest with occasional pressure described as someone with a hand in his chest pushing vertically down on his heart.. At the same time he complained of left arm pain and earlier in the day his hand had cramped up in claw fashion.  His heart rate at home this morning was 48 beats per minute with occasional palpatations.  

I took him to the emergency room where his pulse was recorded as low as 42 at rest and 60 with walking to the bathroom. His EKG was NSR with Bradycardia.  1 PAC was noted.  His S02 varied from 89-94%. His CXR was normal.

He was admitted to PCU and placed on oxygen.  The cardiologist did a stress test this morning that was normal.  His heart rate did go up to 100 after prolonged exercise and dropped down to 52 at rest.  His oxygen saturation is 91%  on room air.

The cardiologist sent him home this afternoon with an event monitor and wants to see him in 2 weeks.  He said that for a 36 year old man this is not abnormal and he is doing OK. We recieved no answers as to the cause and were told not to worry. His pulse rate at home now is 52 and regular. I do not know his BP.  He is currently asleep since the trip home made him exhausted.

I am a health care professional and feel very uncomfortable with this.  The admitting ER physician felt that the problem might be in the SA node which makes sense.  The night nurse saw on the monitor an arrthymia and a drop in heart rate to 21, but the cardiologist discounted this as monitor error since the recording delay did not document the rhythm.

Do you feel that a 2nd opinion is in order?  We do not have a primary physician who I can approach for advise and sincerely appreciate this opportunity to "talk with you".
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238668_tn?1232735930
I think that his doctor is approaching this from a conservative viewpoint and this is wise.  The only treatment for slow heart rates is a pacemaker so if it is absolutely not needed then it's better not to proceed.  See what the tests show and if he is still not doing well a pacemaker may be needed.
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