A common test that records the electrical activity of the heart can identify
a potentially serious heart problem previously thought to pose no threat, a new
The condition, called "left anterior fascicular block" (LAFB), involves
scarring in a section of the hearts' left ventricle (pumping chamber). People
with the condition may be at higher risk of heart failure, sudden cardiac death
or a dangerous heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, the new study
In this study, researchers analysed data from more than 1 600 people older
than age 65 who were followed for 16 years. People with heart failure, high
blood pressure, diabetes or a history of heart attack were not included in the
Electrocardiogram (ECG) was used to record the electrical activity of the
"We then compared those with LAFB to those with a normal electrocardiogram,
we found that those who had LAFB indeed had a higher risk of atrial
fibrillation, congestive heart failure and death," senior study author Dr
Gregory Marcus, an electrophysiologist in the cardiology division at the
University of California, San Francisco and an associate professor in residence
with the UCSF School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
Rates of LAFB are unknown and there is no treatment for the condition, Marcus
noted. He said the findings could open a new area of research in cardiology.
"This study may suggest that LAFB, even in the absence of known high blood
pressure or diabetes, should be thought of as a cardiovascular risk factor,"
Marcus said. "Those patients with LAFB perhaps should be considered the same as
someone with an established cardiovascular risk factors."
Find out more about the electrocardiogram at the US
National Library of Medicine.
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