Utility of Left Bundle Branch Block as a Diagnostic Criterion for Acute Myocardial Infarction

Published:February 08, 2011DOI:
      The clinical utility of new or “presumably new” left bundle branch block (LBBB) as an electrocardiographic criterion equivalent to ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in contemporary practice is not well established. The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that new or presumably new LBBB in symptomatic patients frequently leads to an overdiagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). A retrospective analysis of data from consecutive patients in the Mayo Clinic's ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction network from July 2004 to August 2009 was conducted among 892 patients, 36 (4%) of whom had new LBBB. The frequency, clinical characteristics, serum troponin levels, coronary angiographic findings, and outcomes of patients with new LBBB suspected of having AMI were evaluated. Compared with patients without LBBB (n = 856), those with new LBBB were older (64.5 vs 72.9 years, p <0.001), had higher Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) risk scores (22.7 vs 31.0, p <0.005), were less likely to undergo primary percutaneous coronary intervention (86% vs 22%, p <0.001), and had longer door-to-balloon times. Only 14 patients (39%) had final diagnoses of acute coronary syndromes, of which 12 were AMI, while 13 (36%) had cardiac diagnoses other than acute coronary syndrome and 9 (25%) had noncardiac diagnoses. Of the patients with AMI, 5 had occluded culprit arteries, of which 2 involved the left anterior descending coronary artery. A Sgarbossa score ≥5 had low sensitivity (14%) but 100% specificity in diagnosing AMI in the presence of new LBBB. In conclusion, new or presumably new LBBB in patients suspected of having AMI identifies a high-risk subgroup, but only a small number have AMI. Two thirds of these patients are discharged from the hospital with alternative diagnoses. The Sgarbossa criteria appear to have limited utility in clinical practice because of their low sensitivity.
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