Asymptomatic Left Bundle Branch Block Predicts New-Onset Congestive Heart Failure and Death From Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiol Res. 2012 Dec;3(6):258-263. doi: 10.4021/cr214w. Epub 2012 Nov 20.


Background: Left bundle branch block (LBBB) has been proposed as a risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We sought to characterize the strength of these associations in a population without preexisting clinical heart disease.

Methods: The association between LBBB and new-onset congestive heart failure (CHF) or death from cardiovascular diseases was examined in 1,688 participants enrolled in the SPPARCS study who were free of known CHF or previous myocardial infarction. SPPARCS is a community-based cohort study in residents of Sonoma, California that are > 55 years. Medical history and 12-lead ECGs were obtained every 2 years for up to 6 years of follow-up. LBBB at enrollment or year 2 was considered "baseline" and assessed as a predictor of CHF and cardiovascular death ascertained at years 4 and 6.

Results: The prevalence of LBBB at baseline was 2.5% (n = 42). During 6 years of follow-up, 70 (4.8%) people developed new CHF. Incidence of CHF was higher in patients with LBBB than in participants without LBBB. This association persisted after controlling for potential confounders (odds ratio (OR): 2.85; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01 - 8.02; P = 0.047). A higher mortality from cardiovascular diseases was also found in participants with LBBB after adjusting for potential confounders (OR: 2.35, 95%CI: 1.02 - 5.41; P = 0.044).

Conclusions: LBBB in the absence of a clinically detectable heart disease is associated with new-onset CHF and death from cardiovascular diseases. Further study is warranted to determine if additional diagnostic testing or earlier treatment in patients with asymptomatic LBBB can decrease cardiovascular morbidity or mortality.

Keywords: Bundle-branch block; Heart failure; Mortality; Risk factors.