Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a condition characterized by abnormal electrical pathways in the heart that cause a disruption of the heart's normal rhythm. People with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are born with an extra connection in the heart, called an accessory pathway, that allows electrical signals to bypass the atrioventricular node and move from the atria to the ventricles faster than usual. Resulting symptoms include dizziness, a sensation of fluttering or pounding in the chest (palpitations), shortness of breath, and fainting (syncope). In rare cases, arrhythmias associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. The most common arrhythmia associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.
HOW IS WOLFF-PARKINSON-WHITE DIAGNOSED?
A physical exam done during a tachycardia episode will show a heart rate faster than 100 beats per minute. The condition may be diagnosed with an ECG or with continuous or person triggered ambulatory ECG monitoring, such as a Holter monitor. A test called an electrophysiologic study (EPS) is done using catheters that are placed in the heart. This test may help identify the location of the extra electrical pathway.
HOW IS WOLFF-PARKINSON-WHITE TREATED?
Medicines, particularly antiarrhythmic drugs such as procainamide or amiodarone, may be used to control or prevent a rapid heartbeat. If the heart rate does not return to normal with medical treatment, doctors may use a type of therapy called electrical cardioversion (shock). The long-term treatment for WPW syndrome is very often catheter ablation. Open heart surgery to burn or freeze the extra pathway may also provide a permanent cure for WPW syndrome. In most cases, this procedure is done only if you need heart surgery for other reasons.
DID YOU KNOW?
With passage of time, this problem tends to get risky with time and thus it is suggested that one shouldn't ignore these symptoms.