Pathophysiology

Wolff-Parkinson-White or WPW syndrome is a serious medical condition involving anomalous electrical pathways in the heart that lead to malfunctions of the heart's normal rhythm, known as cardiac arrhythmias.

An individual who suffers from WPW syndrome will typically experience an extra electrical pathway between the heart's upper and lower chambers; otherwise known as the atria and the ventricles. As a result, the heart will beat faster than normal, and the individual will experience periods of tachycardia, which is an abnormally rapid heart rate.

Incidence

WPW syndrome is a rare cardiac condition, generally found in less than 0.3% of the world's population, or in approximately 3 out of every 1,000 people. Although WPW syndrome is undeniably a rare condition, and the statistics of suffering from this ailment are relatively low, it is still a serious condition that may lead to sudden cardiac death if left undetected and/or untreated.

Etiology

WPW syndrome is a congenital heart disease, meaning that when it occurs, this abnormal cardiac condition is present from birth. Even though the existing medical research suggests that WPW syndrome may be inherited from a parent, the majority of WPW cases have presented themselves randomly and have shown no evidence of family inheritance of the disease.

Detection

The most common and effective way of detecting and diagnosing WPW syndrome is through a 12-lead electrocardiogram or EKG screening.

Treatment

The treatment of choice for WPW syndrome is catheter ablation, an invasive but rather common procedure performed in a cardiac catheterization lab. Catheter ablation serves to remove or eliminate the extra electrical pathway in the heart, thus correcting the arrhythmias permanently.


To learn more about WPW syndrome, we invite you to watch the educational video below:

WPW (Wolff-Parkinson-White) Animation Video

(An educational video by Eastside Arrhythmia Services)

We need your help.

Help us raise community awareness for congenital heart conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death, while supporting children and families afflicted by WPW.