SUMMARY To provide an understanding of the clinical characteristics of patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI) and bundle branch block, experience from five centers was accumulated. Patients in whom bundle branch block first appeared after the onset of cardiogenic shock were excluded. In 432 patients, the most common types of block were left (38%) and right with left anterior fascicular block (34%). In 42% of the patients, bundle branch block was new. Progression to high degree (second or third degree) atrioventricular (AV) block via a Type II pattern occurred in 22% of the patients.
Hospital and first year follow-up mortality rates were 28% and 28%, respectively. Only 46% of the patients developed pulmonary edema or shock (Killip Class III or IV), and hospital mortality was related to the amount of heart failure (8%, 7%, 27%, 83% for Killip Classes I-IV, respectively). Patients with progression to second degree or third degree AV block via a Type II pattern had increased hospital mortality compared with patients without this complication (47% vs 23%, P < 0.001). In the absence of pulmonary edema or shock, patients with Type lI second degree or third degree AV block still had a higher mortality rate than patients without advanced AV block (31% vs 2%, P < 0.005), with nearly all the deaths due to abrupt development of AV block.
Thus, in many patients MI with bundle branch block is associated with severe heart failure. However, this was not true for a majority of the patients, in whom therapy aimed at preventing morbidity and mortality due to the bradyarrhythmia of advanced AV block might be beneficial.