After a fall, I was told my heart was beating too slowly
QI AM a 72-year-old pensioner in extremely good health. However, recently I had a bad fall at home and bumped my head, resulting in an ambulance rush to hospital. After some tests, the doctors told me results suggested my heart was beating too slowly, as low as 30 beats per minute.
Should I be worried?
AMy experiences in emergency medicine have revealed that, as doctors, we are often focused on the injury rather than the cause.
What caused the fall and did you lose awareness, or have what people commonly term a blackout?
Heart rates can vary slightly with mood, temperature andwhether you have been eating. Drugs such as beta-blockers, used for high blood pressure, can lower heart rate.
A pulse slower than 50 is considered slow and in your case seems to be the first evidence of a problem with the heart’s natural pacemaker, the sino-atrial node. This is a condition known as sinus bradycardia, or sick sinus syndrome.
If left untreated, it could be unsafe, as an episode of slow heart rate could result in not enough blood reaching your brain, causing you to faint or collapse.
I recommend you be referred to a cardiologist. Consideration will immediately be given to fitting you with a pacemaker, if the bradycardia is significant.
This is a device which is not much bigger than a large thick coin. It is placed, during a minor operation under local anaesthetic, under the skin of your upper chest, and a fine, flexible lead connects it to the inside of the heart.
If your heart rhythm falls below a certain rate, it switches on, and with a tiny electric current stimulates the heartbeat to a healthy rate.
A wound left after a pacemaker operation.