Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a type of arrhythmia characterized by an extra electrical pathway (circuit) in your heart. As a result, the electrical signal may arrive at the ventricles too soon. The condition can lead to episodes of rapid heart rate (tachycardia or supraventricular tachycardia). Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is one of the most common causes of fast heart rate disorders in infants and children, and is believed to be a congenital heart defect.
Overview and Symptoms
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cardiac arrest (in rare cases)
In some cases of WPW, patients do not have any symptoms, or may only experience periodic or infrequent episodes of a rapid heart rate.
Tests to diagnose WPW may include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which will show an extra pathway between the atria and ventricles of the heart (called a delta wave)
- Electrophysiology (EP) study, to help pinpoint the arrhythmia
- Holter monitor, to record your heartbeat
If you don't have any symptoms, you will not need treatment. If you are having episodes of tachycardia as a result of WPW, you may be able to be treated with medications.
Otherwise, catheter ablation is the most common method for interrupting an abnormal pathway: it destroys the area of the heart causing the tachycardia. Catheter ablation has a success rate of more than 90 percent.