The Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a heart condition in which there is a path (circuit) additional power in the heart . The condition can lead to episodes of a rapid heart rate ( tachycardia ). This syndrome is one of the most common causes of fast heart rate disorders in infants and children.
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- 1 Causes, incidence and risk factors
- 2 Symptoms
- 3 Signs and tests
- 4 Treatment
- 5 Expectations (prognosis)
- 6 Complications
- 7 Situations requiring medical assistance
- 8 Alternative names
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
Causes, incidence and risk factors
Normally, the electrical signals in the heart pass through a path that helps it beat regularly. The heart’s electrical circuit prevents additional beats from occurring and prevents the next heartbeat from happening too soon.
In people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, there is an additional or accessory route that can cause a very fast heart rate. This is called supraventricular tachycardia .
The frequency of rapid heart rate episodes depends on the patient. Some people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may have only a few episodes of a fast heart rate, while others may experience it once or twice a week. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and the condition is found when heart tests are done for another reason.
A person with WPW syndrome may have:
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Palpitations (sensation of perceiving the heartbeat)
- Shortness of breath
Signs and tests
An examination performed during a tachycardia episode will reveal a heart rate greater than 230 beats per minute and normal or low blood pressure. A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute in adults and below 150 beats per minute in neonates, infants, and young children.
If the patient is not currently experiencing tachycardia, the physical examination may be completely normal.
A test called an intracardiac electrophysiological study (EPS) can help identify the location of the additional electrical path.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can be revealed by the following tests:
- ECG ( electrocardiogram ) which may show an abnormality called a “delta” wave
- Continuous ambulatory monitoring ( Holter monitor )
Medications, such as adenosine, antiarrhythmics, and amiodarone, can be used to control or prevent tachycardia episodes.
If the heart rate does not return to normal with the medication, doctors may use a type of therapy called electrical cardioversion (shock).
The current preferred therapy for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is catheter ablation. This procedure involves inserting a tube (catheter) into an artery through a small incision near the groin to reach the heart area. When the tip reaches the heart, the small area that is causing the fast heart rate is destroyed, using a special type of energy called radiofrequency .
Open heart surgery can also provide a permanent cure for this syndrome. However, surgery is generally done only if the patient has to undergo it for other reasons.
Catheter ablation cures this disorder in most patients. The effectiveness rate of the procedure fluctuates between 85 and 95%. This rate will vary depending on the location of the accessory route and the number of these routes.
- Surgery complications
- Lowering of blood pressure (caused by continuous fast heart rate)
- Heart failure
- Side effects of medications
The most serious form of rapid heartbeat is ventricular fibrillation, which can quickly lead to shock and requires emergency treatment (cardioversion).
Situations requiring medical assistance
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome or if you already have the disease and your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.