Definition of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – An inherited arrhythmia disorder in which an extra conduction pathway, called an accessory pathway, exists between the heart’s atria and ventricles.

The accessory pathway allows the heart’s electrical pacing impulse to bypass the normal conductive route, reaching the ventricles before the atria have completed their contraction cycle.

While many people who have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome never experience any symptoms, some people have episodes of ventricular tachycardia, in which the ventricles contract regularly though very rapidly.

Ventricular tachycardia is not very effective in moving blood to the lungs and especially through body, resulting in feelings of lightheadedness or episodes of syncope (brief loss of consciousness) as the blood supply to the brain becomes diminished.

Symptoms and Treatment

The electrocardiogram (ecg) provides the diagnosis, showing the accessory conductive pathway. People who do not have symptoms do not need treatment though should receive regular followup evaluation from a cardiologist.

When symptoms are present, treatment is necessary and may take the form of medication to regulate the heart’s rhythm or radiofrequency ablation to destroy the extra pathway. Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome tends to show symptoms in early to middle adulthood.

Undetected and untreated Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may result in sudden cardiac death. With appropriate treatment, most people who have the condition no longer experience symptoms.


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