Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Would moving to a lower altitude help my heart rate?

Q. My doctor told me I have bradycardia. I live at an altitude of 5,765 feet — would moving to a lower altitude help my heart rate? Recent cardiac tests, including a nuclear stress test, were normal. My cardiologist said I did not need a pacemaker, and to keep on doing what I've been doing. I used to jog five miles a day and now, at age 85, walk three miles a day.

A. I wholeheartedly agree with your cardiologist that you should keep doing what you are doing. Walking is wonderful medicine.

Bradycardia usually refers to a resting heart rate under 60 beats per minute. While that may be low for someone who doesn't exercise, it isn't unusual for someone who does. (Spanish bicyclist Miguel Indurain, for example, once had his resting heart rate measured at 29 beats per minute!)

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