Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW)

What is WPW

Some individuals are born with an extra electrical pathway in the heart, one that creates an abnormal electrical connection between atria and the ventricles. This extra electrical pathway can create a characteristic pattern on the electrocardiogram, and often produces the conditions necessary for developing supraventricular tachycardia.

Symptoms of WPW

People may first experience symptoms at any age, from infancy through adult years.Symptoms of WPW may include one or more of the following:

  • Heart palpitations a sudden pounding, fluttering or racing feeling in your chest
  • Dizziness feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Anxiety
  • Rarely, cardiac arrest (sudden death)
  • Some people have WPW without any symptoms at all.

 

What are the risks of WPW

Complications of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can occur at any age, although some individuals born with an accessory pathway in the heart never experience any health problems associated with the condition.

Because the onset of atrial fibrillation in WPW can lead to dangerously rapid heart rates, and because atrial fibrillation is common (and may be more common in people with WPW than in the general population), most specialists encourage patients with WPW to consider ablation therapy.