Bundle branch block is a medical condition that creates an obstruction or delay in the pathway of electric impulses that travel to make the heartbeat. The blockage or delay might happen on the way which sends electric impulses to the left or the right side of the bottom ventricles (chambers) of heart.
Bundle branch blocks make it hard for the heart to pump blood effectively to the circulatory system in the body.
There aren't any specific treatments for this medical condition however several underlying condition which causes bundle branch blocks can be treated such as heart diseases.
Causes of Bundle Branch Blocks
Generally the electrical impulses in the heart muscle signal to the heart beat. These electric impulses have a pathway through which it travels that includes the right and left bundles. If any one or both the bundles are damaged due to cardiac arrest for instance, the attack can block the pathway of electric impulses which will result in heart beating abnormally.
There could be many reasons that could lead to bundle branch block however it may differ depending which side of the right or left bundle branch is damaged. There are also possibilities for this condition to occur without any other underlying reasons.
Here are few of the specific causes that can cause bundle branch blocks
Right Bundle Branch Block:
- Congenital - heart abnormality from birth like a hole in the upper chambers - the atrial septal defect.
- Myocardial infarction - Cardiac arrest
- Myocarditis - Viral or bacterial infection in the heart muscles
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Pulmonary Embolism - Blood clot in lungs.
Left Bundle Branch Block:
- Hypertension – High blood pressure
- Heart diseases
- Myocarditis - Bacterial or viral infection in heart muscle
- Cardiomyopathy - Stiffened, weakened and thickened heart muscle
Symptoms of Bundle Branch Blocks
Most people remain unaware of the bundle branch blocks since it doesn't cause any symptoms. In most cases, people suffering from the condition are unaware they have the condition.
Here are few symptoms of people who know if they have bundle branch blocks. They are:
- Syncope - Feeling of giddiness or going to faint
- Presyncope - Fainting.
When to Consult a Physician for Bundle Branch Blocks?
If you faint or have the sensation of fainting, it is important for you to consult a physician and find out the underlying reasons.
If you are having cardiac medical condition or have been diagnosed for bundle branch blocks, it is important for you to ask your physician how often you need to consult him or her and schedule follow-up consultation regularly. Apart from that, it is also important that you carry a medical card showing you have the condition such that in case of emergency by a doctor who is unaware of your condition will be able to treat you properly.
Getting Ready for Your Consultation with Physician for Bundle Branch Blocks
The best way is to start consulting your primary care doctor and later on make the doctor refer to a cardiologist, cardiac specialist who specializes in treating bundle branch blocks.
Here are few details that might help you in getting ready for your consultation or things that you must expect from your cardiologist for bundle branch blocks.
Things to do Beforehand for Bundle Branch Blocks
- Pre-appointment restrictions. This is very important and you need to ask the doctor if there is anything you need to do in advance before visiting the doctor for consultation. It has to be done when you fix an appointment with the doctor. You can ask your physician if you need to restrict intake of caffeine, or any other food before your tests.
- Note down all symptoms you experience even though it might be unrelated to the condition.
- Note down all your personal and medical information such as lifestyle changes, stress level change, etc.
- Note down all the details of medicines you are currently taking including supplements and vitamins with their dosage levels.
- Take a friend or family member with you while you go for your consultation. You might forget to share any medical symptoms or details to the physician so if you have someone who knows you will be able to remind you about things you have forgotten to mention.
- Note down all the questions you wish to ask your doctor or you might forget during your consultation.
Having a set of questions ready to ask your doctor will help you save a lot of time when you meet the doctor and it will be easy for the doctor as well. Here are a couple of questions that you can ask your doctor related to bundle branch blocks.
- What are the symptoms and causes particularly related to my situation?
- What are the recommended treatment options available and recommended?
- What tests are to be done and any preparations for them?
- Side effects of the treatment?
- Will the condition return after the treatment?
- If you have any other conditions, explain it to doctor and get advised on how to manage the conditions together.
- Availability of printed materials and brochures or websites to look out for.
Things to Expect from Your Physician Related to Treatment for Bundle Branch Blocks
You will be asked a lot of questions by your physician. Here are few questions that physicians might ask, it is better to get ready with your answers as it will save a lot of time.
- When did you experience the symptoms first?
- Is anything resulting in the improvement of your symptoms for bundle branch blocks?
- Is there anything that worsening your symptoms?
- Has any physician diagnosed or identified you have bundle branch block?
Risk Factors for Bundle Branch Blocks
There are a few risk factors that are relate to bundle branch blocks, here they are:
- Increasing Age: The condition is more common and frequent in aged people than young or middle aged people.
- Underlying Health Conditions: People having any heart diseases or high blood pressure are more likely to get affected by the condition than those without these conditions.
Complications for Bundle Branch Blocks
Slow heart rate is the main complication of bundle branch blocks which can cause fainting.
Those who have cardiac problems that developed to bundle branch blocks will have serious complications such as sudden heart attack than those people who have had cardiac arrest but without bundle branch blocks.
Since bundle branch blocks directly affect the electrical activity it can also complicate the functioning and diagnosis of other heart conditions such as cardiac arrest which can lead to delays in
affective management of those conditions.
Tests to Diagnose Bundle Branch Blocks
Here are a few tests that are used to diagnose the underlying conditions of bundle branch blocks
- Echocardiogram: This test can determine the underlying cause of bundle branch blocks. In this test process, sound waves help to create images of the heart which will allow your physician to identify and know your heart condition.
- Electrocardiogram: In this test, electric impulses of the heart is recorded using wires attached to various parts of the skin such as chest arms and other parts of the body. Abnormalities in the result will help to identify bundle branch blocks and the place it is affected.
Echocardiogram gives detailed images of the heart including thickness of heart muscles and if all the moments in your heart value are normal.
Treatment for Bundle Branch Blocks
People with bundle branch blocks may not have many symptoms and won't need any treatment.
It is necessary to know if any underlying condition is causing bundle branch blocks in your heart and if identified the condition has to be treated immediately. There are several treatment options such as taking medications to lower your blood pressure and decrease the effects of heart failure or coronary angioplasty procedure to open the artery moving to your heart.
Your doctor might recommend treatment options for bundle branch blocks depending on your symptoms and heart condition.
- Pacemaker for treating bundle branch blocks: Implanting a pacemaker is recommended for people with bundle branch blocks who experiences fainting always. It is an internal pacemaker that is implanted inside your chest with wires that connects to the right side of heart. It is used to provide electrical impulses to maintain heart rate normal.
- Cardiac Resynchronization to treat bundle branch blocks: The biventricular pacing, though it is similar to the implanting a pacemaker, a third wire will be used to connect to the left side of the heart. This will keep both the sides of your heart in rhythm.