Two hundred and 14 patients with chronic second degree heart block were seen and followed up in the Devon Heart Block and Bradycardia Survey between 1968 and 1982. The patients were divided into three groups according to the type of block. In group 1 there were 77 patients with Mobitz type I block (mean age 69 years), in group 2, 86 patients with Mobitz type II block (mean age 74 years), and in group 3, 51 with 2:1 or 3:1 block (mean age 75 years). The five year survival was similar in all groups, being 57%, 61%, and 53% in groups 1, 2, and 3 respectively. The presence or absence of bundle branch block did not appear to influence prognosis. In particular, patients in group 1 without bundle branch block did not fare any better than those in group 2 both with and without bundle branch block. One hundred and three of the patients were fitted with pacemakers, the proportion being greatest in group 2. In each group a significantly larger number of paced patients survived than unpaced. The five year survival for all the paced patients in the study was 78% compared with 41% for the unpaced. Since the paced patients were slightly younger than the unpaced two age matched groups of 74 patients each were selected from the paced and unpaced patients, but the five year survival of those paced was still significantly better. It is concluded that in the patients in the present study chronic Mobitz type I block has a similar prognosis to that of Mobitz type II block. Unpaced patients with both types did very badly, whereas those fitted with pacemakers had a five year survival similar to that expected for the normal population. These results refute the benign reputation of chronic Mobitz type I block and imply that patients with this condition should be considered for pacemaker implantation on similar criteria to those adopted for patients with higher degrees of block.
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