The symptoms of right bundle branch block aren’t always apparent, and some individuals may be unaware they have this condition. A small percentage of individuals notice warning signs like faintness, a persistently slow heart rate, or actual fainting. It’s not clear in all cases that this condition even requires treatment if the person is symptom-free. On the other hand, it’s important to have this condition diagnosed because in some cases it can cause dangerous complications, such as heart failure, sudden arrythmias, sudden death, or a very low heart rate.
Right bundle branch block is an interruption of the electrical signals on the right side of the heart, which can interfere with the heart’s regular beating. There are a number of causes for this condition. Some people are born with a congenital heart disease that inhibits this electrical pathway. Alternately, heart failure, heart attacks, certain heart surgeries, or a stroke may induce this poor electrical connection. Some individuals with high blood pressure or a recent pulmonary embolism are prone to developing this disease, too.
As mentioned, many patients have no symptoms of right bundle branch block. This is often especially the case if the disease presented congenitally. If symptoms occur sporadically, those experiencing them may be more likely to dismiss them. For example, feelings of faintness that occur from time to time might be attributed to low blood sugar or simply standing up too quickly. Most people also don’t regularly monitor their heart rate and are unlikely to notice if it is beating slowly.
When symptoms of this faulty electrical pathway are noticed, it may be because they have become more pronounced. Individuals could have fainting spells or frequent episodes of feeling faint. Doctors do advise patients to seek treatment if they have fainted or are experiencing periods of dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint.
Another method by which the symptoms of right bundle branch block may be noted is in routine physical examinations or in the follow-up care offered after other cardiac problems have been identified. A very slow heart rhythm may be the only evidence of this condition, and might warrant a referral to a cardiologist or electrophysiologist. These specialists can then perform more tests to evaluate the heart’s electrical system and determine the cause of the problem.
Though many people never become symptomatic with this illness, some patients progress to a greater level of symptoms of right bundle branch block and are at risk for severe complications. These include heart attack or complete failure of heart function, resulting in death. To prevent this outcome, doctors may recommend medication or implantation of a pacemaker. In contrast, asymptomatic patients often don’t require treatment.