Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the heart’s electrical signals travel along an extra pathway from the heart’s upper chambers (atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles). This extra pathway disrupts the timing of the heart’s electrical signals and can cause the ventricles to beat very fast. WPW may be associated with supraventricular tachycardia (fast heart rate originating above the ventricles). Although rare, the greatest concern for people with WPW is the possibility of having atrial fibrillation (AFib) with a fast ventricular response that worsens to ventricular fibrillation (VFib), a life-threatening arrhythmia.
Your doctor will likely recommend heart tests to diagnose WPW syndrome, such as:
WPW is a congenital heart abnormality; the extra electrical pathway is present at birth. WPW occurs randomly in the general population, in about 1 to 3 of 1,000 persons. Males are more prone than females to have this heart disorder. Some cases of WPW are inherited. WPW may be associated with congenital cardiac defects, Ebstein's anomaly, mitral valve prolapse, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or other cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle).
Symptoms of WPW may include one or more of the following:
Some people have WPW without any symptoms at all.
Treatment for patients with WPW depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms. If a patient exhibits no symptoms, likely no treatment will be required. If a patient exhibits symptoms, treatment to slow a fast heart rate and to prevent future episodes might be needed.
Treatments might include:
The innovative team at Memorial Hermann is here to help you find the treatment you need. For more information on diagnostic procedures to minimally invasive treatments for your thoracic condition, fill out the form below or call to schedule an evaluation.
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