The Clinical Significance of Bundle Branch Block Complicating Acute Myocardial Infarction

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Abstract

SUMMARY The indication for prophylactic temporary and permanent pacing during acute myocardial infarction (MI) complicated by bundle branch block is high risk of progression via a Type II pattern to second or third degree (high degree) AV block during hospitalization or follow-up. In this study, determinants of high degree AV block during hospitalization and sudden death or recurrent high degree block during the first year of follow-up were examined in 432 patients with Ml and bundle branch block.

Timing of onset of bundle branch block, the involved fascicles, and the PR interval were examined as determinants of risk of progression to high degree AV block during MI. At highest risk were 186 patients with blocks involving the right bundle and at least one fascicle of the left bundle which were not documented on prior electrocardiograms. Risk was similar with (38%) or without (31%) accompanying first degree AV block.

Patients with transient high degree AV block during MI had a 28% incidence of sudden death or recurrent high degree block during the first year of follow-up. Patients not continuously paced had a higher incidence of sudden death or recurrent high degree block than patients continuously paced (65% vs 10%, P < 0.001). Sudden death during follow-up also occurred in 13% of patients without high degree block during MI. A subgroup with 1) documented prior MI, 2) anterior or indeterminant acute MI, and 3) no symptoms of cardiac failure had a 35% risk of sudden death. The role of permanent pacing in this group is unknown.

Thus, patients at high risk of high degree AV block should receive prophylactic temporary pacing. Patients who survive high degree block with MI should receive temporary and then permanent pacing. Patients without high degree AV block during MI who nevertheless have a high risk of sudden death may benefit from permanent pacing.

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