Patients with a suspected acute coronary syndrome and left bundle branch block (LBBB) present a unique diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to the clinician. Although current guidelines recommend that patients with new or presumed new LBBB undergo early reperfusion therapy, data suggest that only a minority of patients with LBBB are ultimately diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction, regardless of LBBB chronicity, and that a significant proportion of patients will not have an occluded culprit artery at cardiac catheterization. The current treatment approach exposes a significant proportion of patients to the risks of fibrinolytic therapy without the likelihood of significant benefit and leads to increased rates of false-positive cardiac catheterization laboratory activation, unnecessary risks, and costs. Therefore, alternative strategies to those for patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction are needed to guide selection of appropriate patients with a suspected acute coronary syndrome and LBBB for urgent reperfusion therapy. In this article, we describe the evolving epidemiology of LBBB in acute coronary syndromes and discuss controversies related to current clinical practice. We propose a more judicious diagnostic approach among clinically stable patients with LBBB who do not have electrocardiographic findings highly specific for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction.
- acute myocardial infarction
- left bundle branch block
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine