Functional bundle branch block: Discordant response of right and left bundle branches to changes in heart rate

Donald A. Chilson, Douglas P. Zipes, James J. Heger, Kevin F. Browne, Eric N. Prystowsky

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Abstract

Faster heart rates shorten refractoriness more in some tissues than in others. This study investigates whether faster heart rates shorten relative refractoriness more in the right than left bundle branch in humans. Premature atrial stimulation at 2 or more basic cycle lengths was performed in 314 patients with no evidence of atrioventricular conduction system disease. In 10 patients, both functional right and left bundle branch block (BBB) developed with premature atrial stimulation. Functional right BBB occurred at the longer basic cycle length, and functional left BBB at the shorter cycle length in 8 patients. In 2 patients functional right and functional left BBB were present at the same cycle length, but functional left BBB occurred at a shorter premature atrial coupling interval. For all patients, the mean functional right bundle branch relative refractoriness was 438 ms at a basic cycle length of 847 ms, and functional left bundle branch relative refractoriness was 357 ms at a cycle length of 622 ms (p <0.01). The HV interval was 45 ± 15 ms at control and increased with functional left BBB to 77 ± 19 ms (p <0.01), but not with functional right BBB. Thus, relative refractoriness of the right and left bundle branches are rate-dependent and discordant. At longer cycle lengths, relative refractoriness of the right bundle branch is greater than that of the left bundle branch, and at shorter cycle lengths relative refractoriness of the left bundle branch is greater than that of the right bundle branch. The relative refractory period curves "cross over" and can explain the presence of both functional right and left BBB in the same patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-316
Number of pages4
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 1984

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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