A delay or obstruction in the pathway that electrical impulses travel to make your heart beat can make it harder for your heart to pump blood.
Bundle branch block is a condition in which there's a delay or blockage along the pathway that electrical impulses travel to make your heart beat. It sometimes makes it harder for your heart to pump blood efficiently through your body.
The delay or blockage can occur on the pathway that sends electrical impulses either to the left or the right side of the bottom chambers (ventricles) of your heart.
Bundle branch block might not need treatment. When it does, treatment involves managing the underlying health condition, such as heart disease, that caused bundle branch block.
In most people, bundle branch block doesn't cause symptoms. Some people with the condition don't know they have bundle branch block.
Rarely, signs and symptoms may include fainting (syncope) or feeling as if you're going to faint (presyncope).
If you've fainted, see your doctor to rule out serious causes.
If you have heart disease or have been diagnosed with bundle branch block, ask your doctor how often you should have follow-up visits.
Normally, electrical impulses within the heart muscle cause it to beat (contract). These impulses travel along a pathway, including two branches called the right and the left bundles. If one or both of these branch bundles are damaged — due to a heart attack, for example —the electrical impulses can become blocked, and your heart will beat abnormally.
The cause for bundle branch blocks can differ depending on whether the left or the right bundle branch is affected. Sometimes, there is no known cause.
Causes can include:
Risk factors for bundle branch block include:
If both the right and the left bundles are blocked, the main complication is a complete blockage of the electric signaling from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart. The lack of signaling can slow your heart rate, leading to fainting, abnormal heart rhythms and other serious complications.
Because bundle branch block affects the electrical activity of your heart, it can sometimes complicate the accurate diagnosis of other heart conditions, especially heart attacks, and lead to delays in proper management of those problems.
If you have a right bundle branch block and you're otherwise healthy, you might not need a full evaluation. If you have a left bundle branch block, you will need a full evaluation.
Tests that can be used to diagnose a bundle branch block or its causes include:
Most people with bundle branch block don't have symptoms and don't need treatment. For example, left bundle branch block is not treated with medications. However, treatment depends on your specific symptoms and other heart conditions.
If you have a heart condition causing bundle branch block, treatment might involve medications to reduce high blood pressure or reduce symptoms of heart failure.
If you have bundle branch block and a history of fainting, your doctor might recommend a pacemaker. A pacemaker is a compact device implanted under the skin of your upper chest with two wires that connect to the right side of your heart. The pacemaker releases electrical impulses when needed to keep your heart beating regularly
If you have bundle branch block with low heart-pumping function, you may need cardiac resynchronization therapy (biventricular pacing). This treatment is similar to having a pacemaker implanted. But you'll have a third wire connected to the left side of your heart so the device can keep both sides in proper rhythm. Cardiac resynchronization therapy is meant to improve the coordination of both lower chambers of the heart so that they contract at the same time.
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. You might be referred to a doctor trained in heart disorders (cardiologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Be aware of pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your caffeine intake before having heart function tests.
Make a list of:
Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible, to help you remember the information you receive.
For bundle branch block, questions to ask your doctor include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, including:
November 20th, 2021