Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome involves episodes of rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and baseline abnormal ECG caused by abnormal electrical pathways (circuits) in the heart.
Normally, electrical signals in the heart go through the atrioventricular (AV) node, the pathway connecting the two top chambers of the heart (atria) to the two bottom chambers (ventricles).
In people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, there is an extra, or accessory, AV pathway. This can lead to a condition of pre-excitation. Pre-excitation occurs when electrical activity bypasses the AV node and goes thru the extra pathway. In some patients, the extra pathway may result in re-entry supraventricular tachycardia, which is a rapid heart rate that starts above the two bottom chambers of the heart.
The location of the extra electrical pathway in Wolff-Parkinson-White can often be precisely identified. Wolff-Parkinson-White occurs is one of the most common causes of fast heart rate disorders (tachyarrhythmias) in infants and children.
How often the rapid heart rate occurs depends on the patient. Some people with Wolff-Parkinson-White may have just a few episodes of rapid heart rate, others may experience the rapid heart rate once or twice a week. In some cases, the patient has no symptoms. In this case, the extra pathway is often found when a doctor has requested an ECG for some other purpose.
A person with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome may have:
- Palpitations (a sensation of feeling your heart beat)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or chest tightness
- Medication management to control or prevent rapid heart beating