The long-term cardiac prognosis of 24 clinically healthy men with complete right bundle branch block, identified from the 1,142 men constituting the population of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, was assessed over a follow-up period averaging 8.4 years. When compared with a control group matched for age at which right bundle branch block appeared (mean ± standard deviation 64.0 ± 13.5 years), men with right bundle branch block showed no difference in the prevalence of antecedent coronary risk factors or obstructive lung disease. The incidence of angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, valvular heart disease, cardiomegaly, congestive heart failure, advanced heart block or cardiac death in these men did not differ from that of the control group over the observation period. Furthermore, at the latest follow-up study, maximal aerobic exercise tolerance and chronotropic response to maximal exercise were not impaired in men with right bundle branch block relative to control men (9.1 ± 2.2 versus 7.3 ± 3.0 minutes and 150.3 ± 23.5 versus 147.7 ± 20.7 beats/minute, respectively). However, axis deviation leftward of -30° was present in 46% of men with right bundle branch block but in only 15% of control subjects at latest follow-up (probability [p] < 0.01). Although the PR interval lengthened by 40 ms or more developed in only 6% of control subjects over the observation period, such prolongation occurred in 29% of men with right bundle branch block (p < 0.05). These results support the concept that right bundle branch block in these asymptomatic men is a manifestation of a primary abnormality of the cardiac conduction system but has no demonstrable adverse effect on long-term cardiac morbidity or mortality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine