Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW)
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW)
In a normal heart beat, or normal sinus rhythm, an electrical impulse originates at the SA node which is located in the upper right atrium. This electrical impulse travels through the atria to the AV node where there is a brief pause. The AV node then transfers the electrical impulse to the ventricles which completes a heart beat.
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW Syndrome) is an arrhythmia that results from an accessory pathway which is an additional electrical connection between the heart’s atria and ventricles. This additional pathway bypasses the AV node. In Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, this additional pathway, or accessory pathway is called the Bundle of Kent.
This accessory pathway may also transmit electrical impulses abnormally from the ventricles back to the atria. This extra connection can disrupt the coordinated movement of the electrical signal through the heart which could lead to fast heartbeats, or tachycardia, and other arrhythmias. Symptoms can include palpitations (a sensation of fluttering or pounding in the chest), shortness of breath, dizziness, and syncope (fainting). The most common arrhythmia associated with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW) is called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.
Treatments include medications and surgical procedures such as a catheter ablation, or radiofrequency ablation.
In the late 1800’s a American physician, Lois Wolff; an English cardiologist, Sir John Parkinson; and an American cardiologist, Paul Dudley White identified this syndrome as Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome is also referred to as WPW Syndrome.