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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

LBBB may be sign of heart disease

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Peter Gott United Media

Dear Dr. Gott: I went to a doctor for weight control pills, and he insisted on giving me an EKG prior to the medication. I was subsequently told I have a left bundle branch block and that I shouldn’t worry. Well, I’m scared. How dangerous is this?

Dear Reader: Although most doctors are reluctant to give medication for weight control (because the drugs, being stimulants, are often harmful to the heart and vascular system), it is appropriate to obtain a cardiogram before administering such pills in order to avoid giving stimulants that might worsen heart block or coronary artery disease. In your case, I believe that the doctor hit the jackpot.

Left bundle branch block means that the electrical impulses causing cardiac contractions are slowed or blocked en route to the heart muscle.

In my view, you should worry about this serendipitous finding, because LBBB is never normal: It may be the first sign of arteriosclerotic heart disease.

I suggest that you leave the diet doctor (and don’t take his prescription). Bring your LBBB to your family physician’s attention. You need further testing. In my opinion, a stress test is mandatory.

LBBB in some people may not be cause for concern. However, depending on age and general health, it should not be ignored in the vast majority of patients.

I share your concern. See your family doctor, who may choose to refer you to a cardiologist.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Coronary Artery Disease.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: For years I’ve thought of writing to tell you how much I have learned from your column and from your book, “No House Calls.” I’ve suffered from hypertension for five years and until now have not had a satisfactory doctor relationship. Thanks to your advice, I changed physicians and am very satisfied. He’s kind, compassionate, and has really helped me. Thank you for the recommendation.

Dear Reader: It’s always nice to receive compliments. I am glad I could help you.

Choosing a doctor needn’t be a daunting task, as long as patients realize that a doctor is a resource to help them. If the “chemistry” of the physician/patient relation isn’t right, it makes sense to move on and interview other doctors until patients find a practitioner with whom they are comfortable.

The doctor/patient relation isn’t a marriage for better or for worse. Rather, it should be for the better – specifically, for the betterment of the patient.

Thank you for writing.