What Is Bradycardia?
Bradycardia is the medical term for a heartbeat which is too slow or has symptomatic pauses. For well-trained athletes, bradycardia at rest may be normal. For most people, however, bradycardia may indicate the presence of a serious heart rhythm disorder. Due to bradycardia the heart may be unable to pump sufficient blood into the body. To supply the body with sufficient oxygen-rich blood to meet metabolic demand, the beat rate of a healthy heart increases automatically upon exertion and during exercise, for example, but also in response to acute mental stress, which may be caused by strong emotions and psychological states. In patients with chronotropic incompetence, however, the heart fails to respond, resulting in a heart rate which is too low to meet the body’s needs.
If a person has slow heart beat or symptomatic pauses cause dizziness or fainting (syncope), a pacemaker may be necessary. Pacemakers are small devices which are implanted below the collarbone under the skin or the chest muscle. The insertion of a pacemaker is a standard procedure. It requires only a local anesthetic, so the patient can usually leave the hospital the following day. The pacemaker serves as an artificial timekeeper for the heart, and is connected to the heart via one or two electrode leads. It continuously monitors the heart’s activity and when the heart beats too slowly or gets out of step, the pacemaker sends electrical impulses to restore the normal rhythm.
Every moment of a person’s life is colored by their emotions: a sense of freedom during a walk in the mountains, the joy of playing with a grandchild or the adrenaline rush experienced during a swimming race. It is difficult to tell if one’s reaction to such experiences is purely emotional, purely physical or some combination of the two, but in any case the healthy heart’s reaction to acute mental stress – positive or negative is an important part of how these moments are lived.
For those with a pacemaker or other implanted cardiac device which regulates their heartbeat, the device’s pacing settings may not respond adequately to emotional or psychological factors. In the interest of maintaining a consistent and appropriate rhythm, device patients’ heart rates often remain steady in cases where their pace would naturally quicken or, conversely, too slow in moments of excitement. This sensation can leave device patients confused as to why they physically feel differently excited or unenergetic at inappropriate times. Closed Loop Stimulation ( CLS ) is the only rate response sensor able to overcome this limitation by adjusting the heart rate in response to both physical and acute mental stress.
Another feature of BIOTRONIK pacemakers are MRI conditional systems that are compatible with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With these MRI conditional systems, patients are allowed to undergo magnetic resonance even with an implanted cardiac device.