About wolff parkinson white syndrome

What is wolff parkinson white syndrome?

General Discussion

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a rare congenital heart disorder involving irregularities in the electrical system of the heart. In individuals with WPW syndrome, an abnormal alternate electrical pathway (accessory pathway), exists between the atrium and the ventricle, resulting in abnormal heartbeat rhythms (arrhythmias) and faster than normal heartbeats (tachycardia). The normal heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers are the atria and the two lower chambers are the ventricles. Within the right atrium of a normal heart is a natural pacemaker that initiates and controls the heartbeat. The electrical stimulus travels from the pacemaker (sinoatrial or SA node) to the ventricles along a specific pathway consisting of conducting tissue and known as the AV (atrioventricular) node. The extra electrical pathway in individuals with WPW syndrome bypasses the normal route and causes the ventricles to beat earlier than normal (preexcitation) and can allow electrical impulses to be conducted in both directions (i.e., from the atria to the ventricles and from the ventricles to the atria).

What are the symptoms for wolff parkinson white syndrome?

Episodes of a fast heart rate (tachycardia) can begin suddenly and may last a few seconds or several hours. Episodes can occur during exercise or while at rest.

Other signs and symptoms of WPW syndrome are related to the fast heart rate and underlying heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia). The most common arrhythmia seen with WPW syndrome is supraventricular tachycardia. Supraventricular tachycardia causes episodes of a fast, pounding heartbeat that begin and end abruptly. Some people with WPW syndrome also have a fast and chaotic heart rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation.

In general, signs and symptoms that may occur in people with WPW syndrome include:

Symptoms in infants

Signs and symptoms of WPW syndrome in infants can include:

Some people with an extra electrical pathway don't have signs or symptoms of a fast heartbeat. This condition is called Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) pattern. It's often discovered by chance during a heart test.

What are the causes for wolff parkinson white syndrome?

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a type of heart problem present at birth (congenital heart defect). WPW syndrome may occur with other types of congenital heart disease, such as Ebstein anomaly.

Rarely, WPW syndrome is passed down through families (inherited). The inherited, or familial, type is associated with a thickened heart muscle. This is a form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

To understand the causes of WPW syndrome, it may be helpful to know how the heart typically beats.

How does the heart beat? Typical heartbeat Open pop-up dialog box Close Typical heartbeat Typical heartbeat

In a typical heart rhythm, a tiny cluster of cells at the sinus node sends out an electrical signal. The signal then travels through the atria to the atrioventricular (AV) node and into the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood.

The heart is made of four chambers — two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles).

The heart's rhythm is controlled by a natural pacemaker (the sinus node) in the right upper chamber (atrium). The sinus node sends electrical signals that typically start each heartbeat. These electrical signals move across the atria, causing the heart muscles to squeeze (contract) and pump blood into the ventricles.

Next, the heart signals arrive at a cluster of cells called the AV node, where the signals slow down. This slight delay allows the ventricles to fill with blood. When the electrical signals reach the ventricles, the chambers contract and pump blood to the lungs or to the rest of the body.

In a typical heart, this heart signaling process usually goes smoothly, resulting in a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute.

In WPW syndrome, an extra electrical pathway connects the upper and lower heart chambers, allowing heart signals to bypass the AV node. As a result, the heart signals don't slow down. The signals become excited, and the heart rate gets faster. The extra pathway can also cause heart signals to travel backward, causing an uncoordinated heart rhythm.

What are the treatments for wolff parkinson white syndrome?

Cardiac catheter ablation Open pop-up dialog box Close Cardiac catheter ablation Cardiac catheter ablation

In catheter ablation, one or more thin, flexible tubes (catheters) are passed through a blood vessel, usually in the groin, and guided to the heart. Sensors on the catheter tips use heat (radiofrequency energy) or extreme cold (cryoblation) to scar a small area of heart tissue. The scarring blocks faulty electrical signals that cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

Treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms and the type of heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia) causing the fast heart rate.

The goals of treatment are to slow a fast heart rate when it occurs and to prevent future episodes. Treatment options for a fast heart rate include:

  • Vagal maneuvers. Simple but specific actions such as coughing, bearing down as if having a bowel movement or putting an ice pack on the face can help slow down the heart rate. Your health care provider may ask you to perform these actions during an episode of a fast heartbeat. These actions affect the vagus nerve, which helps control the heartbeat.
  • Medications. If vagal maneuvers don't stop a fast heartbeat, you might need medications to control the heart rate and restore the heart rhythm. Medications may need to be given by IV.
  • Cardioversion. Paddles or patches on the chest are used to electrically shock the heart and help reset the heart rhythm. Cardioversion is typically used when vagal maneuvers and medications don't work.
  • Catheter ablation. In this procedure, the health care provider inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a blood vessel, usually in the groin, and guides it to the heart. Sometimes more than one catheter is used. Sensors on the tip of the catheter use heat (radiofrequency energy) to create tiny scars in the heart. The scar tissue permanently blocks faulty electrical signals, restoring a regular heartbeat. Catheter ablation doesn't require surgery to access the heart, but it may also be done at the same time as other heart surgeries.

People with an extra signaling pathway but no symptoms (WPW pattern) usually don't need treatment.

Is there a cure/medications for wolff parkinson white syndrome?

There is no cure for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW), but there are medications that can help manage the symptoms.

  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a rare heart condition that affects about 1 in 500 people. It can cause a fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fainting spells.
  • There are two types of medication that may help treat the symptoms of W-P-W: beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. These drugs work by slowing down your heart rate, which will reduce the risk of having an arrhythmia (an abnormal heartbeat).
  • Medications like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers can help to treat the rapid heart rate associated with WPW. These types of drugs work by slowing down your heart rate, which may make it easier for you to exercise and prevent many of the symptoms of WPW.
  • These medications are usually only prescribed by a doctor if you have certain types of arrhythmias or other health problems related to W-P-W syndromes, such as angina (chest pain) or palpitations (abnormal heart beats).
  • In addition to medications, lifestyle changes may also help improve your symptoms. These include avoiding caffeine and nicotine, avoiding strenuous exercise or overexertion, and eating a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.
Tachycardia (fast heart rate),Shortness of breath,Lightheadedness,Fainting spells
Heart disease,Heart valve disease,Hyperthyroidism,Congenital heart disease,Arrhythmia

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