Anyone dealing with hypothyroidism needs to know about bradycardia symptoms as the thyroid-heart connection is often missed.
Bradycardia is the medical term to describe a slow heartbeat…and it’s often associated with thyroid dysfunction.
The thyroid is a tiny gland that produces hormones that help control how the body uses energy. When the thyroid hormones are low every organ and body system slows down, including the heart. And that’s a problem as the thyroid hormones support proper cardiac function.
So What’s A Normal Heart Rate?
To start, let me explain what’s considered a normal heart rate.
When your heart is working well your heart rate should be between 60 to 100 beats per minute. This is considered a normal resting heart rate
If your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, or less it signals a problem.
A slower than normal resting heart rate should be investigated. You see, a slow pulse is a normal finding in elite athletes, and exceptionally fit people. But for most people it’s a warning their heart is in trouble.
When your heart rate slows down it places far greater strain on the heart.
And as you can imagine, the heart then struggles to efficiently pump blood around the body. In addition, your brain and other organs are become starved of oxygen, and essential nutrients. Over time this leaves you feeling breathless, and fatigued.
The Common Sinus Bradycardia Symptoms You Need To Know
A slow heart rate causes insufficient blood flow throughout the body causing symptoms such as:
- Dizziness, especially if get up too quickly
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting, or near fainting spells
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling in the legs
- Fatigue on waking due to reduced metabolic activity during the night
Note: Feeling faint or dizzy spells are a sign your heart rate is abnormally slow, and your brain is not getting enough oxygen. If you are concerned about bradycardia symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention and get your heart checked.
Are You Getting Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitations make your heart feel like it is racing, or pounding. You may also notice your heart rate feels erratic.
Palpitations may be caused by the heart speeding up to compensate for a reduced ability to pump blood normally. It’s not always a sign of HIGH blood pressure.
What Causes Bradycardia Symptoms?
Your heart normally heart beats in a regular rhythm. The chambers of the heart contract and then relax in a steady fashion. There are many underlying factors that cause a problem with the ability of your heart to beat normally, most notably hypothyroidism.
A Thyroid Problem Can Trigger Bradycardia Symptoms
Why is a slow heart rate common when you have low thyroid function?
Research reveals the thyroid hormones control three main aspects of your heart health. Your thyroid hormones help;
- control the pace of your heart rate.
- regulate the force of each heartbeat.
- maintain the physical strength of your heart by supporting ongoing tissue repair, and growth.
How To Get Your Heart Rate Tested
There are some simple ways to get tested. Furthermore, testing is relatively easy when you use an electronic heart rate monitor, or an electronic blood pressure machine.
+ Purchase your own blood pressure machine. If you suspect your heart rate becomes elevated in your doctor’s office it is a good idea to purchase your own electronic blood pressure machine to monitor your heart rate at home.
+ Visit your local pharmacy. These days most pharmacies offer on the spot blood pressure checks. Make a note of both your blood pressure and pulse rate. Are they low? You should discuss your findings with your medical practitioner.
+ Visit your medical practitioner. If you have particular concerns about your thyroid and heart health you should visit your medical practitioner to discuss these concerns. A medical practitioner can check your blood pressure, pulse rate, and listen to your heart using a stethoscope. They may also discuss further investigations into the state of your heart health.
Recommended Blood Tests To Investigate Your Thyroid And Heart Function
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in Australia. Yet how many women with a thyroid problem get a hearth health check up? Conversely, how many women with a heart problem, including high cholesterol, are screened for a potential thyroid problem?
# Thyroid Function Tests
If you suspect you have may have a thyroid problem it’s vital to get proper testing.
A complete thyroid check includes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4, free T3, thyroid antibodies, and reverse T3 (RT3).
It’s very important to test reverse T3 as excess reverse T3 is often associated with sinus bradycardia. You can learn more about this common thyroid disorder here: Why You Need To Know About Reverse T3 Dominance
# Cardiac Function Tests
- Cholesterol panel; Total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and VLDL.
- Blood glucose
- Homocysteine (if raised also consider MTHFR genetic testing)
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Lipoprotein (a)
# General Tests
- Full blood count (FBC)
- Liver function test (LFT)
Your risk of developing a serious heart problem can be minimized by properly treating an underlying thyroid disorder.
It’s also reassuring to know that cutting edge research is uncovering the critical role the thyroid hormones play to help heal the heart. More specifically, emerging research reveals restoring free T3 to optimal levels may facilitate the natural ability of the heart to repair, and regenerate itself.
This is good news if you are concerned an under active thyroid has caused strain on your heart. As it turns out the heart has an extraordinary potential to heal itself. Furthermore, it’s possible to reduce your heart disease risk by adopting a nutritious REAL food diet, taking quality nutritional supplements, engaging in effective stress management strategies, and performing regular exercise.
Mourouzis I, Politi E, Pantos C. Thyroid Hormone and Tissue Repair: New Tricks for an Old Hormone? J Thyroid Res. 2013;2013:312104. Link
Pantos C, Mourouzis I, Cokkinos DV. Thyroid hormone and cardiac repair/regeneration: from Prometheus myth to reality? Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;90(8):977-87. Link
Danzi S, Klein I. Thyroid hormone and the cardiovascular system. Med Clin North Am. 2012 Mar;96(2):257-68. Link