Heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute. Well-trained sportsmen often have a slow pulse, because their heart contracts so powerfully that it can maintain adequate blood pressure with fewer beats per minute, and in such cases the condition is harmless. But it can be caused by a disorder elsewhere in the body. A rise in brain pressure, hepatitis and hypothyroidism are associated with slowing of the heartbeat, also damage to the system of impulse and transmission caused by cardiac infarction. Bradycardia is sometimes deliberately induced by beta-blocker drugs to reduce the load on the heart (in angina pectoris, for example). Bradycardia caused by illness elsewhere in the body disappears with the passing of that illness. An artificial pacemaker may be needed to correct deficiencies in the system of impulses.

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