Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome


Alternative Names:

Preexcitation syndrome; WPW

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 or more. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and the condition is found when a heart test is done for another reason.

A person with this syndrome may have:

Treatment:

Medicine such as adenosine, antiarrhythmic drugs, and amiodarone may be used to control or prevent a rapid heartbeat.

If the heart rate does not return to normal with medication, doctors may use a type of therapy called electrical cardioversion (shock).

The long-term treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is catheter ablation. This procedure involves inserting a tube (catheter) into an artery through a small cut near the groin up to 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 to burn or freeze the extra pathway may also provide a permanent cure for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. However, surgery is usually done only if you need surgery for other reasons.

Expectations (prognosis):

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

Complications:

The most severe form of a rapid heartbeat is ventricular fibrillation. It may rapidly lead to shock or death, and requires emergency treatment (cardioversion). Atrial fibrillation can lead to ventricular fibrillation.

Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
  • You have this disorder and symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment

Because there are some inherited forms of this condition, discuss with your health care provider whether your family members should be screened.

References:

Olgin JE, Zipes DP. Specific arrhythmias: diagnosis and treatment. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2011:chap 39.

Zimetbaum P. Cardiac arrhythmias with supraventricular origin. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.


Review Date: 6/4/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania