Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is an abnormal electrical connection (or bypass tract) between the atria and ventricles of the heart. The bypass tract allows electricity in the heart to travel abnormally fast and results in a very rapid heart rate (arrhythmia).

Symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome include the sense of feeling the heart beat rapidly (palpitations), light-headedness, fainting, and dizziness.

How often a person has an episode of rapid heart rate varies. A person may have rare episodes of rapid heart rate, episodes once or twice a week, or may never have symptoms. Doctors can often diagnose Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome by using an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG).

Treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome usually is medicine to control or prevent rapid heart beating. A doctor may recommend a nonsurgical procedure called catheter ablation, in which a thin flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a vein in the groin and threaded into the heart. Then an attachment sends out heat or freezing cold which damages the areas of heart muscle that are passing electrical signals to the heart.

Last Updated: September 17, 2008

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

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