After a fall, I was told my heart was beat­ing too slowly

The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE VERVE -

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.

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