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Slow Heart Rate Does Not Increase Risk Of Heart Disease

Update Date: Jan 21, 2016 10:28 AM EST

If you have a slow heart rate or bradycardia, you do not get automatically exposed to a cardiovascular disease, say researchers from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Those who are affected by bradycardia exhibit heartbeats that are below 50 per minute. This rate is much lower than the normal 60 to 100 beats per minute when the body is resting. Even though bradycardia may lead to short breath, chest pain or fainting at times, as the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen, research does not show any evidence that it may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.

"For a large majority of people with a heart rate in the 40s or 50s who have no symptoms, the prognosis is very good," study author Dr. Ajay Dharod said in a press release. "Our results should be reassuring for those diagnosed with asymptomatic bradycardia."

Patients can take heart rate modifying drugs such as calcium channel and beta-blockers, according to researchers.

They analyzed information from 6,733 men and women aged 45 to 84 years, who were part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). They did not suffer from a cardiovascular disease in the beginning, but a few were taking heart rate modifying drugs for a decade, to fight hypertension.

While bradycardia did not seem to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, there seemed to be a link between slow heart rate and increased mortality rate among those who were consuming heart rate modifying drugs. This is perhaps a hint that the drugs had an adverse effect.

"Bradycardia may be problematic in people who are taking medications that also slow their heart rate," Dharod said. "Further research is needed to determine whether this association is causally linked to heart rate or to the use of these drugs."

The study was published online Jan. 19,2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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