Slow heart rate today

I have an irregular pulse but it's been investigated in the past and no problem found. Was under a huge amount of stress a couple of weeks ago and bp and pulse rate shot up. The stress has subsided but my resting heartrate has dropped to around 52 and I feel quite tired and weak. I'm a 67 year old woman, slightly overweight, no bp problem. Doctor gave me Atenolol last summer to take to slow it down but haven't taken them for months. Could this be left over reaction to stress or should I hot foot it to the doctor.

16 Replies

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  • I am not qualified Stargazey but 52 sounds rather low so I would get it checked out.

  • Thanks Lauren, it's low 80s this am so if I went to doctor he would say there was no problem. Should probably monitor it myself for a few days and get a non-urgent docs appointment (probably 2 weeks). It's scary as I live alone. What I don't want to do is rush to the doctor and get ANXIETY or HYPOCHONDRIAC all over my records. Which I am a bit.

  • Wouldn't worry about it, my resting HR is 32 and at full chat gets up to 180 and I am 58 (also feel tired and weak all the time!)

  • Hi

    I wouldn't treat it as an emergency but would refer yourself to the doctor. If you have an irregular pulse at times this could be AF and the dip to a low heart rate when it bounces back to normal rhythm. It is called Brady/Tachy syndrome. It would only get picked up on an ECG if it happened at the time so the only way to know for sure is to be monitored (24 hour or longer ECG).

    Just my thoughts.

    Jo

  • Hello, Jo, doctor thought I had AF last August, had perfusion heart scan, 24 hour monitor and they said it wasn't. It never goes over about 95 it's just uneven, for years now but doesn't drop that low usually. How do I tell what is reflux, anxiety, palpitations - it all feels the same to me. Feel like I can't get enough air and tight chest, classic anxiety -so you take your bp and it's high, or low, so you take it again and it's worse and if you live alone you imagine being found dead in your bed. Heart rate in 70s/low 80s today, bp okay. Chest pain from reflux, etc. I have put monitor away in summer house at bottom of garden as was getting obsessed. Will make a doctor's appt but probably have to wait a couple of weeks for the one I want. Meantime if I get too bad I'll ring 999.

  • Hi Stargazey

    The problem with AF when it starts it can be very intermittent and not occur for months, however without any life style changes or treatment it might escalate rapidly to be incapacitating as mine did.

    A single 24 ECG would probably miss AF, if it is paroxysmal. If you have any palpitations and raised heart rate for any length of time then it would be a good idea to call 999 as they will do an ECG at the time and can confirm an AF diagnosis. It was only by going through the 999/A&E route that I got diagnosed and treated. Although my worst AF was with a fast heart rate (up to 200 bpm) it is common at lower rates (like 95). When my fast AF episodes finished my heart rate always dipped lower than normal like you reported. During an episode you can feel palpitations or flutters, short of breath and/or faint. I was left drained after. It is also common that women of a certain age with heart related issues get dismissed as neurotic or anxious and usually just means that they hold back reporting it or get inappropriate treatment (like CBT for a heart condition!) so you just have to develop a thick skin and remember it is your health.

    I hope that you are feeling well today.

    Jo

  • My pulse rate is always in the low 50's, both GP and EP have never suggested it would be a problem.

  • Hi Mick

    My heart rate reduced over a number of years from a healthy 60s whilst younger, slimmer and fitter to about 50 as I got older, fatter and less fit. My GP and the cardiologist who reviewed my ECG both said it was nothing to worry about. Over the next 2 years I got increasingly worried as it lowered as I had no medical explanation it seem to fly in the face of accepted wisdom about heart rates. I also had some 'episodes' where I felt quite unwell with palpitations and my GP put these down to panic attacks - it wasn't - it was AF. In the end I bought myself a heart rate monitor (the chest type) that I used to use when exercising and when it got as low as 37 I went back to the doctor to demand a referral to a cardiologist. 2 days later it shot up to 180 (whilst sitting still) and I called 999 and was blue lighted to hospital. In the last year I had cardiologists putting me a list for a pacemaker (still holding out on the that one) 4 emergency admissions to CCU with AF, an ablation for AF and numerous drug treatments.

    I do wish that my GP had listened to my concerns earlier as it might not have got as critical before action was taken.

    Jo

  • Hi Jo, thanks for your advice. I had that nuclear stress test as well as a 24 hour monitor last summer and they have written me off as non cardiac chest pain. Then I had funny turn in the supermarket after Christmas, just didn't recognise anything for two or three minutes. Doctor referred me to TIA clinic who said not TIA. Caused major anxiety though and I get reflux which interferes with heart rate. Blood pressure normal at moment, heartrate 74. If when I am examined or have tests there is nothing to find they cannot treat me because they don't know what they are treating and they won't keep testing and finding nothing because I tell them something is wrong.. It may well be Anxiety and/or reflux and it looks as if l will have to take my chance and bide my time. I'll go to my doc in a couple of weeks, won't get appt before, and just talk about it. Meanwhile there is 999, definitely not 111 though.

    I can understand it's not the plumbing - it's the electrics as I was told there is no evidence of coronary heart disease just irregular pulse. Gave me Atenolol but when I took that hr went to 47 so doctor saud just take one if you feel it playing up. Very occasionally I take half a 25mg. Walked two miles today, down hill and back up. It was cold and I was breathless on way back up but soon recovered. Then my heart was going fast but more regular than when I am sitting still. Doctor said that was good. Sorry for going on but live alone and no-one to talk to. Friends think I'm hypochondriac and maybe they are right.

    I

  • hi stargazey

    have been following your posts and empathise with your experience. I was a fit active adult who had occasional 'funny turns' spasmodically for 20 years. went to doctor several times worried about sudden tiredness, weakness and presyncope but was always fine by the time I got to see him or found it very difficult to describe when there. Got the distinct feeling I was treated as a hypochondriac until I nearly collapsed in the surgery and eventually sent to a&e where they found a pulse rate of 35 for 2 hours. went into acute cardiac ward for tests and as usual my heart behaved itself until it suddenly went haywire during an echocardiogram and they finally realised I did have a problem. I have both tachycardia (sudden bursts of fast heart rhythm followed by bradycardia - long periods of very slow pulse rate. Drug treatment was a nightmare as they were giving me drugs to slow the heart down which only prolonged the 'down periods' and left me washed out for weeks. I eventually gave up on all the drugs and feel better for doing so. I have had ablations but not entirely successful as they cannot easily replicate my condition in the theatre in order to treat it - my 'blips' are completely erratic, spontaneous and random - not caused by stress etc. I did realise though that when I have palpitations and my heart rate rockets that I often exacerbated the problem by getting very anxious about it - when I accepted it was not going to kill me, and calmed myself down, the palpitations lasted only briefly and I was able to manage them better. I still get sudden tiredness etc but less often than before - usually between 30-37 bpm - it slows me down but I can still do things without worrying. I am a 62 year old male. Everybody's case and condition is individual and unique and I do agree with all comments that say you have to persevere with doctors who vary widely in their attitudes. I'm sorry your friends are not sympathetic but I have found that one of the problems with this kind of condition is that you can look fine but feel absolutely washed out inside - I've lost count of the number of times someone has said to me you're looking fine when actually I felt absolutely the opposite!!

    I wish you well and hope you get the treatment and support you are entitled to.

  • Hello, thanks for the reply. I am really pleased that you are doing okay without any drug, well better than with them. I'm at 52 today but it goes up when I move about. I just feel so anxious but anxiety does not make heartbeat slower does it? Although I suppose the lethargy it produces might. I need to get the anxiety under control - this is new to feel it so acutely. I just feel this awful thudding in my chest, it's not pain but it's scary. I keep telling myself that the worst that can happen is that my heart stops. And at 67 I suppose it will before too long. I will make an appt with my doctor but I expect it will behave itself like yours did. I wonder what would have happened to you if your heart had not decided to act up at the hospital? I expect they would have just sent you home again. As I say, they can't treat what they cant find.

  • I have AF which is considered stable.My pulse when resting is 51..52. It can rise very high ,being very erratic and missing beats when l'm stressed.l take Flecanide and Bisoprolol which have been a great help.

    I would say go talk to your Doc if you have any concerns, ask to see a specialist if need be.

    Allwobbly

  • Saw my GP today, said I have got short term anxiety after a stressful event a month ago. Sending me for counselling. I have got an irregular pulse but as he said i had it years. Also got reflux. I hope he's right - he could well be as I went for another two mile walk coming back up hill and heart was regular but fast, no chest pain. It happens when I sit and relax. Should I give the counselling ago, get more exercise ad think about other things? I can always go to A&E or phone the surgery if I think I'm going to collapse. I had that mycardial perfusion test last August. Still frightened and I feel it at top of stomach as well. Sorry to be a pest.

  • Check out apple cider vinegar for the reflux as it could help more than some other products. You may want to see if you have these symptoms after eating certain things as food can be an influence . Sugar, real and artificial, can impact heart rate.

  • hello again

    just catching up on the forum and your posts and thought I'd update. I also get a lot of reflux coinciding with the episodes leading to presyncope etc but EP does not associate the two. I also tended to get episodes when relaxing after activity rather than during - its like the heart rate rises normally to cope with the increased demands but then cannot stop the deceleration when relaxing, leading to a constant very low bps. This is the same effect I used to get when on Bisoprolol etc which reduced my HR but did not stop at a normal level. I had a rough week last week but thankfully it has not carried over into this week so feeling better - in the past it would go on for weeks but my last ablation seems to have achieved something. With me, 50-59 bps is not serious or worrying - its when it falls to the 30s that I feel it. My wife does not have heart problems at all and has been in the late 50s bps for years - she just gets migraines which are not related. If stress is a factor for you then I would definitely seek counselling or take up Yoga etc which might help to reduce the acceleration/deceleration of your HR problems - it might even reduce incidence of reflux. I also agree with the advice to check any food correlation with reflux and HR.

    Again I wish you well

  • base rate, did you say its 52 , that's within normal limits.

    you need to go online and look up resting heart rates, I was told mine was 52 base rate and they said that's brilliant.

    I looked up resting heart rates, there is a graph and you put the base rate to your age , mine even though I am slightly overweight ( don't laugh ) comes under athlete.

    its the fitness of your heart that determines the base rate,

    I hope this info sincerely helps to reassure you.....

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