How serious is bundle branch block?

Bundle branch block refers to a small glitch in the heart’s electrical conduction system. The term “bundle” refers to a collection of nerve fibers that receive the “contract now” signal from the atrioventricular node and relay it to the ventricles, the heart’s lower chambers (see illustration).

The electrical signal is supposed to travel at the same speed through the right and the left bundle branches so that both ventricles contract in sync. But if a signal is blocked in one of these pathways, the ventricle with the block will contract a fraction of second later than the other ventricle. The blockage is generally only on one side, so people have either right bundle branch block or left bundle branch block.

If you (and your heart) are generally healthy, a bundle branch block doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. It may simply be a sign of the gradual aging of the heart’s conduction system. But if you have symptoms such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or faint, a bundle branch block may reflect underlying damage to the muscle around the nerve bundle.

For example, a heart attack or a heart infection can cause either right or left bundle branch block. Other possible causes of right bundle branch block include high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries or a blood clot in the lung.

Left bundle branch block (which is less common but potentially more serious) can reflect damage to the left ventricle caused by high blood pressure or thickened, stiff, or weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). In these cases, treatment focuses on the cause of the block.

Ask your doctor how often you should have follow-up visits, which will depend on your age and medical history. Be on the lookout for troublesome symptoms such as shortness of breath, lagging energy, or trouble exercising.

If you develop symptoms, then the problem may be severe enough to require a pacemaker, a small device implanted in the chest to help control abnormal heart rhythms. You should carry a medical alert card so that any doctor who sees you in an emergency room knows that the bundle branch block is not new.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

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