Author + information
- Received June 23, 1986
- Revision received July 29, 1986
- Accepted August 13, 1986
- Published online March 1, 1987.
- ↵*Address for reprints:Nancy C. Flowers, MD, Division of Cardiology (BA S-643), Medical College of Georgia, 1120-15th Street, Augusta, Georgia 30912.
Eppinger and Rothberger in 1909 and 1910 first acknowledged the importance of the conduction system, yet a confusion of the pattern of left bundle branch block with right bundle branch block resulted which persisted for 25 years. In left bundle branch block, right ventricular endocardial activation begins before, and is often completed before, initiation of left ventricular endocardial activation. Most likely, right to left septal activation then follows, resulting in left ventricular endocardial activation. Although it is hazardous to make definitive diagnoses of infarction in the presence of left bundle branch block, clues do exist. Benign left bundle branch block is rare; usually disease becomes manifest. Electrocardiographic criteria of hypertrophy are not as helpful in older patients with chronic left bundle branch block (mainly because of the very high incidence of left ventricular hypertrophy) as in younger patients with block of nonatherosclerotic origin.
Left bundle branch block is often associated with other abnormalities of the conduction system. Fascicular blocks may mask or mimic myocardial infarction. Left posterior fascicular block is most often an indicator of left ventricular myocardial deficit if right ventricular enlargement is eliminated. Mortality is higher in patients with associated left axis deviation than in those with a normal axis, although the incidence of progression of atrioventricular (AV) block is low. In symptomatic patients with prolonged His to ventricular intervals, the incidence of progression of AV block is higher (12%).
Preexisting left bundle branch block in the absence of clinical evidence of heart disease is rare, yet carries with it a slightly increased mortality. Newly acquired left bundle branch block carries a 10-fold increase in mortality; the incidence of sudden death as the first manifestation of heart disease is increased 10-fold.
↵1 From the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta Georgia. This study was supported by Grant 33692 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
* Parts I, II and III of this Seminar appeared in the September, October and November 1986 issues of this Journal.
- Received June 23, 1986.
- Revision received July 29, 1986.
- Accepted August 13, 1986.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation