According to MayoClinic.com, bundle branch block is characterized by a delay or obstruction to the electrical impulses that prompt the heart to beat. These blockages along the heart's electrical pathway can occur in healthy people, but they are usually the sign of an underlying cardiovascular problem. However, if you are diagnosed with a bundle branch block, exercise can be safe, as long as you consult a physician before starting to work out and you don't overstrain yourself.
What Is Bundle Branch Block?
The electrical impulses that control your heart's beating run along slender bundles of cardiac fibers, which divide into left and right bundles. When either bundle is obstructed or blocked, the beating of your heart is affected such that the two ventricles no longer beat in coordination. Bundle branch block is usually caused by a preexisting heart disease or a heart attack, but it can also result from hypertension or a congenital heart defect.
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Symptoms and Exercise
If you have a bundle branch block, you may experience unpleasant side effects such as fainting, lightheadedness or dizziness; you may also feel short of breath and have a slow heart rate. These symptoms cause many people to shy away from exercising. Short-duration, low-intensity exercise should not exacerbate symptoms; however, always discuss your best exercise options with your cardiologist before beginning to work out.
Exercising with Bundle Branch Block
Regular exercise can actually improve your heart health -- as long as you know your body and respect its limits. Again, discuss your exercise regimen with your cardiologist. Start by trying paced, low-intensity exercise. In general, avoid raising your heart rate above 180 beats per minute, which indicates you are working out at too high an intensity. Recommended low-intensity exercises for those with heart disease include indoor cycling, rowing, ellipticals, walking and water aerobics. Always remember to stretch and warm up before working out; cool down afterwards. Start by exercising for 15 minutes, four times per week, and slowly work yourself up to 30-minute sessions.
Prevent Further Damage
There are things you can do to improve your heart health if you have a bundle branch block, or to prevent the condition from worsening. If you smoke, stop: smoking compromises arterial blood flow and can result in further damage to your heart. Additionally, maintain a healthy blood pressure and weight -- modify your diet to lower your intake of sodium, cholesterol and fat.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.