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Bradycardia: Care Instructions

The heart

Your Care Instructions

Bradycardia is a slow heart rate. A slow heart rate can be normal and healthy. Or it could be a sign of a problem with the heart's electrical system. If your heart beats too slowly, it may not supply your body with enough blood. This can make you weak or dizzy. Or it may make you pass out.

Bradycardia can be caused by many things. This includes medicine, certain medical conditions, and changes in the heart that are the result of aging.

How bradycardia is treated depends on what is causing it. Treatments include treating another health problem, changing a medicine, and getting a pacemaker. Treatment also depends on the symptoms. If bradycardia doesn't cause symptoms, it may not be treated. You and your doctor can decide what treatment is right for you.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. If your bradycardia is caused by another disease, your doctor will try to treat the disease. If it is caused by heart medicines, he or she will adjust your medicines.
  • Make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health.
    • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit alcohol, sodium, and sugar.
    • Get regular exercise. Try for 2½ hours a week. If you do not have other heart problems, you likely do not have limits on the type or level of activity that you can do. You may want to walk, swim, bike, or do other activities. Ask your doctor what level of exercise is safe for you.
    • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
    • Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Manage other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • If you get a pacemaker, you will get information about it.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of sudden heart failure. These may include:
    • Severe trouble breathing.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.
    • Coughing up pink, foamy mucus.
    • You passed out.
  • You have signs of a stroke. These include:
    • Sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • New problems with walking or balance.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Drooling or slurred speech.
    • New problems speaking or understanding simple statements, or feeling confused.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or changed symptoms of heart failure, such as:
    • New or increased shortness of breath.
    • New or worse swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
    • Sudden weight gain, such as more than 1 to 1.3 kilograms in a day or 2 kilograms in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
    • Feeling dizzy or light-headed or like you may faint.
    • Feeling so tired or weak that you cannot do your usual activities.
    • Not sleeping well. Shortness of breath wakes you at night. You need extra pillows to prop yourself up to breathe easier.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.