Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Alternative Names

Preexcitation syndrome; WPW

Definition of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a heart condition in which there is an extra electrical pathway (circuit) in the heart. The condition can lead to episodes of rapid heart rate ().

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Normally, electrical signals in the heart go through a pathway that helps the heart beat regularly. The wiring of the heart prevents extra beats from occurring and keeps the next beat from happening too soon.

Symptoms

How often the rapid heart rate occurs depends on the patient. Some people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may have just a few episodes of rapid heart rate. Others may have the rapid heart rate once or twice a week. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and the condition is detected when a heart tests are done for another reason.

Signs and tests

An exam performed during a tachycardia episode will reveal a heart rate greater than 230 beats per minute and that is normal or low. A normal heart rate is 60 – 100 beats per minute in adults, and under 150 beats per minute in neonates, infants, and small children.

Treatment

Medication may be used to control or prevent rapid heart beating. These include adenosine, antiarrhythmics, and amiodarone.

Expectations (prognosis)

Catheter ablation cures this disorder in most patients. The success rate for the procedure ranges between 85 – 95%. Success rate will vary depending on location of accessory pathway and number of accessory pathways.

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/4/2010

Conduction system of the heart

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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