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Why Is My Heart Rate So Slow?---Causes
and Top 10 Natural Remedies
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Last updated January 20, 2017 (originally published October 6, 2012)
By A. Turner, Featured Columnist

6.  Dengue Fever Can Cause Slow Heart Rate.

With a name like "dengue fever," we should all learn to take the
condition to heart (no matter how fast it beats).

Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus that is transmitted by a
certain kind of mosquito, and comes in four varieties.  Dengue fever is
an epidemic in some countries, including Bangladesh,  where
researchers are trying to figure out the disease from every angle.

One direction of interest is how dengue fever affects the heart.  In
2009, Dr. S.M. Arif and a team of researchers with the Dhaka Medical
College Hospital in Bangladesh,  gathered data from a patient who
complained of fever, chills, body aches, and headaches.   He was
eventually diagnosed with “Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Grade-II with
steroid dependent ulcerative colitis.”  Wow.  After four days of
treatment with intravenous fluids and whole blood, he lost the fever
but found a low pulse rate of 52 beats per minute.  The team proposes
that dengue fever’s “myocardial involvement,” as they call the disease’s
influence on the heart, could be either a direct result of dengue fever,
or due to more complicated immune responses.  Either way, “why
certain individuals had a predilection for myocardial involvement is
unknown,” and, thankfully, the symptoms shown in the heart, the low
pulse rate, “run a benign course without long-term complications.”

If your heart slows down and you've recently had dengue fever (or
have been in an area where that might be likely), don't be too quick to
disassociate the two conditions.

Steroids Can Slow Your Heart Down Too Much.

What you might expect to "pump you up" might really pump the rate of
your heart, down.

People take steroids for many reasons that are more natural than
muscle gain.  Some bodies do not make enough corticosteroids on their
own, and some conditions such as arthritis, may be treated with

This year, in 2012, Amar Al Shibli and other researchers from the
Department of Pediatrics at Tawam Hospital Al-Ain in the United Arab
Emirates,   investigated how the consumption of corticosteroids
correlated with cardiac arrhythmias.  They found that “most”
arrhythmias were “in the form of bardycardia,” and that this most
often occurred with high intravenous does of steroids.  

In a specific case, the team observed a 14 year-old male who
consumed oral prednisone, and was hospitalized with “steroid-sensitive
nephrotic syndrome.”  After seven days of hospitalization, during which
time the patient was given oral prednisone in smaller doses, he
developed bradycardia at less than 50% of his baseline heart rate,
which recovered after decreasing his dose of steroids.  When the
steroids dosages were further reduced, the patient “recovered” and
was discharged in stable condition.  The team concludes that
bradycardia arrhythmia “can occur even with standard doses of oral

May the lesson be learned: take physical symptoms from any kind of
medication to heart.

Beta-blockers reduce heart rate: and can increase cardiovascular

Beta-blockers are another form of medication that may be to blame for
low heart rate; but in this case, lowering your heart rate is probably
why you're taking beta-blockers at all.  However, recent research
suggests that beta-blocker treatment may not be consequent-free.

A beta-blocker is a kind of medication that many people use to reduce
blood pressure.  Beta-blockers work by preventing the hormone
adrenaline (epinephrine) so that the heart beats more slowly and with
less force.   Several studies suggest that lowering the heart rate with
beta-blockers benefits the heart in patients with myocardial infarction
and heart failure.   However, a few studies provide opposite evidence:
for patients with hypertension, taking beta-blockers may actually
increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

In 2008, a team led by Dr. Franz H Messerli with the Hypertension
Program at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in
New York , conducted a database search of studies from 1966 to 2008,
and evaluated beta-blockers as "first-line therapy for hypertension,"
including follow-up for at least one year that included data on heart

Relevant data  from over 34,000 patients taking beta-blockers were
compared to that of over 30,000 patients taking other anti-
hypertensive medication, as well as to nearly 4,000 patients receiving
placebo treatment.  They found that a lower heart rate attained by beta-
blockers "was associated with a great risk of the end points of all-cause
mortality," including cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction,
stroke, and heart failure.  The authors conclude that "beta-blocker-
associated reduction in heart rate increasesd the risk of cardiovascular
events and death for hypertensive patients."

If you don't have high blood pressure and want to lower your heart
rate, then beta-blockers may be a good option for you; but if you have
a history of high blood pressure, you may want to seek other
medications in order not to exacerbate the cardiovascular risks that you
already have. (Read bout
how to lower your high blood pressure in
very little time.)

Cancer Treatment May be to Blame for Bradycardia.  

None of us want to undergo cancer treatment, but many of us have to
-- and it seems that every minute a new hardship arises with that
treatment.  There is recent evidence that certain types of cancer
treatment may be so bold as to slow down the beating of our hearts.

In 2012 researchers at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals in the UK,
including Andrew McGregor with Hematology Services,   reported on a
28 year old female patient with leukemia who developed bradycardia.  
The slow heart rate developed after a type of “molecular-targeted
therapy” called all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), as well other
chemotherapeutic agents.  After ATRA was “withheld,” the patient’s
heart rhythm returned to “normal,” and she “recovered and went on to
achieve complete remission.”

If a slow heart rate concerns you and you're undergoing cancer
treating, consider expressing your concerns to your oncologist.  

The Genes That Gave Us Our (slow beating) Heart.

Sick sinus syndrome is another group of disorders that affect the
rhythm of the heart – and not the poetic kind.  Sick Sinus syndrome
includes bradycardia (a slow heart rate), pauses or arrest, tachycardia
(fast heart rate), and alternating fast and slow heart rates.  While sick
sinus syndrome most commonly occurs in people older than 50, it can
also happen to children – in all age rangers, low heart rate,
bradycardia, is more common than any of the other types of sick sinus

In 2010, a large team of researchers from Iceland, Denmark, The
Netherlands, and the U.S., including Kari Stefansson with the Faculty of
Medicine at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik,  applied genotyping
and gene sequencing methods to over 38,000 Icelanders.  The data
revealed a “previously unidentified sick sinus syndrome susceptibility
gene” called MYH6. Subjects with a missing variant in this gene were
"associated" with sick sinus syndrome, so that the team concludes that
"the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with sick sinus syndrome is around
6% for non-carriers" of this variant, whereas the risk is "50% for

We might as well blame our parents for something they really did -- like
give us a missing variant on a gene that slows down the rate of our
heart beat.

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Fish oil can cause a slow heart pulse.