Bradycardia: Care Instructions

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The heart

Your Care Instructions

Bradycardia is a slow heart rate. If your heart beats too slowly, it can't supply your body with enough blood. This can make you weak or dizzy. Or it may make you pass out.

Sometimes medicine can cause this problem. If this happens, your doctor may have you adjust one of your medicines. If a medicine is not the problem, your doctor may recommend a pacemaker.

It is important to treat bradycardia so that you don't get more serious health problems. Your doctor will want to see you on a routine schedule to make sure that your heartbeat is normal.

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.
    • 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.
    • To control your cholesterol, avoid foods with a lot of fat, saturated fat, or sodium. Try to eat more fibre. And if your doctor says it's okay, get some exercise on most days.
    • Do not smoke. Smoking can make your heart condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Limit alcohol. Talk to your doctor about how much, if any, is safe for you. Too much alcohol can cause health problems.


If you have a pacemaker, you will get more specific information about it. Be sure to:

  • Check your pulse as your doctor tells you.
  • Have your pacemaker checked as often as your doctor recommends. You may be able to do this over the phone or computer.
  • Avoid strong magnetic or electrical fields. These include MRIs, welding equipment, and generators.
  • You will be checked several times right after you get your pacemaker and when it is time to have the battery changed. Batteries last for 5 to 15 years.
  • You can talk on a cell phone. But keep it 15 centimetres away from your pacemaker.
  • Microwaves, TVs, radios, and kitchen and bathroom appliances won't harm you.

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?

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