Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

X-linked Juvenile Retinoschisis
X-linked Juvenile Retinoschisis

Overview Of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a condition in which there is an extra electrical pathway within the heart. As a result, this leads to periods of rapid heart rate (tachycardia). WPW syndrome is one of the most common causes of fast heart rate issues in infants and children.

Commonly Associated With

  • Preexcitation syndrome
  • WPW
  • Tachycardia – Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
  • Arrhythmia – WPW
  • Abnormal heart rhythm – WPW
  • Rapid heartbeat – WPW

Causes Of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

Typically, electrical signals follow a certain pathway through the heart, which helps the heartbeat regularly. This prevents the heart from having either extra beats or beats that happen too soon. However, in people with WPW syndrome, some of the heart’s electrical signals travel down an extra pathway. This may cause a very fast heart rate called supraventricular tachycardia. The majority of people with WPW syndrome do not have any other heart problems. However, these is a link between this condition and other cardiac conditions, including Ebstein anomaly. A type of the condition also runs in families.

Symptoms Of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

How often a rapid heart rate occurs can vary depending on the person. Some people with WPW syndrome have only a few occurrences of rapid heart rate, while others may have a rapid heart rate one to two times a week (or more). There also may be no symptoms at all. Sometimes, a doctor will find the condition when they do a heart test for another reason.

A person with this syndrome may have:

  • Chest pain or chest tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Palpitations (a sensation of feeling your heart beating, usually quickly or irregularly)
  • Shortness of breath

Exams & Tests

A physical exam done during an episode of tachycardia will show a heart rate that’s faster than 100 beats per minute. A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute in adults, and under 150 beats per minute in newborns, infants, as well as small children. Blood pressure will be normal or low in the majority of cases.

If the person is not having tachycardia at the time of examination, the results can be normal. A doctor may diagnose this condition with an electrocardiogram (ECG) or with ambulatory ECG monitoring, such as a Holter monitor. A test called an electrophysiologic study (EPS), is done utilizing catheters that are placed in the heart. This test may help identify the location of the additional electrical pathway.

Treatment Of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

Medicines, particularly antiarrhythmic drugs such as procainamide or amiodarone, may be used to either control or prevent a rapid heartbeat. If the heart rate does not return to normal with medical treatment, doctors may use a therapy called electrical cardioversion (shock).

Catheter ablation is often the long-term treatment for WPW syndrome. This procedure involves placing a tube (catheter) into a vein through a small cut near the groin area. This catheter is then navigated up toward the heart. When the tip of the catheter finally reaches the heart, the small area that is causing the fast heart rate is destroyed by using radiofrequency. Cryoablation (freezing) of the small area can also be utilized. This process is done as part of an electrophysiologic study.

Another treatment option includes open heart surgery to either burn or freeze the extra pathway. This option may also provide a permanent cure for WPW syndrome. In most cases, this procedure is completed only if you need heart surgery for other reasons.