Medical History and Physical Exam for a Slow Heart Rate
A doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and do a
physical exam to evaluate your symptoms. The information gained from your
medical background and physical exam may provide important clues about your
symptoms. It also can help a doctor recommend specific tests to help diagnose
and treat your condition.
If the doctor thinks you have
bradycardia, he or she may ask:
What symptoms have you
How long did the symptoms last?
you doing when you first noticed the symptoms? Were you eating, coughing,
Did anything make the symptoms better or worse, such
as slow, deep breathing or holding your breath?
Did you take your
pulse when you had the symptoms? If you did, how fast or slow was your heart
beating? Was it beating regularly?
Do you ever have chest
Have you ever lost consciousness?
activity bring on your symptoms or make them worse?
Has there been
a change in your ability to exercise?
Have you had a tick bite
recently or noticed any rashes?
What medicines are you currently
Do you drink alcohol or smoke? Do you use any illegal
drugs? If so, how much?
Do you have a family history of heart
During a physical exam, the doctor or another health professional
Take your blood pressure.
your pulse, to see how fast your heart is beating and to find out whether the
rhythm is regular.
Listen to your heart through a stethoscope. If
he or she hears any
murmurs, or extra heart sounds, it may mean that your
heart's conduction system has been damaged.
Listen to your lungs
through a stethoscope. Certain sounds may indicate fluid buildup (edema) or
Check for swelling in your neck veins, legs, ankles,
and abdomen, which is a sign of fluid buildup and possible
Why It Is Done
The medical history and physical exam are needed for a doctor to
find out whether you have a slow heart rate. They are also important to help
discover whether you have any underlying conditions or complications.
Normal findings include the following:
Blood pressure and pulse rate are
Breathing and heart rhythm and rate are
You have no signs of fluid buildup in the body (fluid
buildup is a sign of heart failure).
Abnormal findings that may suggest a problem from a slow heart
Low blood pressure.
A slow or
Abnormal heart sounds.
when listening to the lungs, which may indicate a backup of blood in the lungs
caused by heart failure.
If the physical exam and medical history strongly suggest a very
slow or irregular heartbeat, you will have more testing.
What To Think About
It is important to provide your doctor with detailed information
about your symptoms, past medical history, and lifestyle. It may help to write
down some of the symptoms you have recently had. Your doctor might ask you to keep a diary of symptoms.
Before your visit, write down all of the medicines you are
currently taking. Also, write down other details about your medical history. Be sure to include nonprescription medicines, including diet supplements
or herbal remedies. Bring the information to your scheduled appointment.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.