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Bradypnea is a medical term that describes abnormally slow breathing. There are numerous potential causes of bradypnea, such as cardiac problems, medications or drugs, and hormonal imbalances.

What Is Bradypnea?

Bradypnea is a medical term that describes abnormally slow breathing.

There are numerous potential causes of bradypnea, such as cardiac problems, medications or drugs, and hormonal imbalances.

This blog will thoroughly examine bradypnea, including symptoms, causes, and treatment options.


Bradypnea: What is it?

An abnormally slow breathing rate is sometimes referred to as Bradypnea.

An adult’s average breathing rate ranges between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. A resting respiration rate of <12 or 25< breaths per minute can indicate an underlying health problem.


Age Normal Respiratory Rate (Breaths Per Minute)
Infants 30 to 60
1 to 3 years 24 to 40
3 to 6 years 22 to 34
6 to 12 years 18 to 30
12 to 18 years 12 to 16

What are the reasons and factors of bradypnea?

Managing your breathing is a complicated task. The brainstem, or base of the brain, is required to control breathing. Signals travel to the spinal cord from the brain, where they are transferred to the muscles that tighten and relax to allow air into your lungs.

Sensors in your brain and major blood vessels check how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in your blood and change how fast you breathe based on that information. Furthermore, sensors in your airways respond to the stretching caused by breathing and send signals back to your brain.

You can also slow your breathing by controlling your inhales and exhales, a common relaxation technique.


A variety of factors can contribute to bradypnea, including:



The misuse of opioids has become crisis-level. These medications bind to receptors in your central nervous system (CNS). As a result, opioids can significantly reduce your breathing rate. An opioid overdose can be fatal, causing you to stop breathing altogether.



Certain hormones can be deficient if your thyroid gland is dysfunctional. If left untreated, this can cause some bodily processes to slow down, including respiration. It can also weaken the muscles required for breathing, resulting in decreased lung capacity.



Toxins can affect the body by decelerating your breathing. For example, a compound called sodium azide is used in vehicle airbags to help them inflate. You can also find it in pesticides and explosives. This chemical can slow the cardiovascular and central nervous systems when significant amounts are inhaled.

Carbon monoxide is another example, a gas produced by vehicles, oil and gas furnaces, and generators. This gas can enter the body through the lungs and build up in the bloodstream, resulting in low oxygen levels.


Injuries to the head

Bradycardia (low heart rate) and bradypnea can result from injury close to the brainstem and high pressure inside the brain.



Various medications used by doctors during surgery, such as muscle relaxants, anaesthetics and postoperative pain treatments, can cause bradypnea.


Imbalances in electrolytes

Minerals with an electrical charge, known as electrolytes, help keep the body’s systems balanced.

Magnesium, calcium, phosphate, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and chloride are electrolytes.

The body does not function as it should if the ratios of these electrolytes in the blood and tissue are out of balance, which may cause abnormally slow breathing. Electrolyte imbalances can occur when there is too much or too little water.



Reduced oxygen levels in the body can be caused by slow breathing. The most typical symptoms of bradypnea are related to oxygen deprivation.

Bradypnea symptoms include:

1. Feeling faint

2. Lightheadedness

3. Chronic fatigue

4. Dizziness

5. Confusion

6. Headaches

7. Chest pain

8. Weakness

9. Memory problems

10. Poor coordination


Treatment and possibilities

To address the underlying issue causing bradypnea, a doctor may recommend medication.

Along with blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse, a person’s breathing rate is one of their vital signs.

Medical professionals measure these vital signs regularly because the results provide a quick overview of a person’s essential bodily functions.

The prognosis for those who suffer from bradypnea largely depends on the events or medical conditions that caused it.

For instance, thyroid medication can aid in restoring regular breathing rates and other metabolic functions when an underactive thyroid is a cause.

Doctors may administer a breathing mask and additional oxygen to a patient whose breathing is slow due to a complex condition, such as heart disease, to ensure their body tissues are receiving enough oxygen.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death. When a heart condition causes bradypnea, the patient requires extensive treatment to address the underlying cause.

Fortunately, the same drugs doctors use to treat heart failure also help the lungs function better.

People who experience bradypnea from an opiate or alcohol overdose can usually recover from the acute symptoms with medical attention.

Conscious breathing is a technique in which people attempt to be fully aware of their breaths in and out. Conscious breathing has been shown to affect various respiratory conditions, including bradypnea, positively.

Some people, for example, deliberately slow their breathing. In some yoga, meditation, and biofeedback techniques, people willfully slow down and expand their breath as a relaxation method. Recent research suggests this may improve autonomic nervous system function and the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.


A message from the Heartscope Specialist Group

Age, obesity, certain medical conditions, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are just a few factors that can cause a decrease in lung capacity. There are countless things you can try to keep your lungs healthy.

Your lungs will function best if you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and refrain from smoking. You must visit your primary care provider if you have low lung capacity symptoms like shortness of breath so a doctor can evaluate them for an underlying condition. You can also consult the Heartscope Specialist Group, In case you want to know more about bradypnea and its underlying cause.