You have probably learned in your Science class that the heart has four chambers — the two upper chambers called the right and left atria; and the two lower chambers called the right and left ventricles. Within the right atrium is the sinoatrial (SA) node which generates electrical impulses traveling from the upper chamber to the lower chambers of the heart resulting in a contraction called a heartbeat. 

The electrical impulses are supposed to travel only on a specific pathway. However, individuals with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome have an extra pathway where the electrical impulses travel, resulting into a rapid heartbeat. 

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome is a congenital heart defect and something that you are born with.  However, the symptoms only show up in certain, often unpredictable, conditions such as stress or exercise. 

What are the symptoms Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome?

The symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome vary from one person to another. Some even do not show symptoms until adolescent or early adulthood. People with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome may exhibit one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Abnormally fast heart beats. The episodes may begin abruptly and then stops right away or may last for a few minutes or longer. 
  • Palpitations
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Syncope or loss of consciousness

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment

If you have Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome and you experience episodes, it is important to determine what causes or triggers it. If you have been exercising strenuously prior to the attack, then you may need to slow down, or decrease the intensity of your workouts. In most cases, Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome isn’t serious or life threatening. Many people will have no symptoms or will occasionally have mild heart racing. However, if the episodes occur more often and longer than usual, it may increase the possibility of the condition developing into a condition such as supraventricular tachycardia. With this, it is very important to seek the attention of a cardiologist or a heart specialist if you experience abnormally fast heartbeat and other symptoms mentioned above.

The Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome may be diagnosed through an electrocardiogram. Other tests that may be needed include mobile electrocardiography, Holter monitoring, exercise treadmill test or electrophysiological study.

Once diagnosed with a Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome, your doctor may prescribe you with medications that can help slow down and normalize your heartbeat. You will also need to attend regular follow-up checkups with your cardiologist to monitor your condition.

However, if the prescribed medication is proven ineffective, then we may recommend other treatment methods such as catheter ablation. This is a medical procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy the areas of the tissues of the heart that cause irregular, rapid heartbeats. For more information of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, contact us at Virginia Arrhythmia consultants.