Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is congenital (present at birth) condition. It happens when the cardiac tissue between the heart's upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia). In a nutshell, it's an extra electrical connection in the heart. The abnormal contractions affect between 0.1 to 0.3% of people in the world's total population.
The most common first symptom of the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is an unusually rapid heart rate. The heart beats may be high up to 230 beats per minute (BPM) while a normal heartbeat is 60-100 in adults and 150 BPM in children. This may last for just a few minutes to several hours. In children under 1 year, further symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome include:
Pediatric and Adult Wolff-Parkinson-White symptoms
The symptoms vary from one patient to another. In some cases, there will be no recognizable symptoms while in others they will appear periodically in quick successions.
The heart has well defined electrical paths that effectively monitor the heartbeat. Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is caused by some of the heart’s electrical signals going down an extra pathway causing supraventricular tachycardia. This extra electrical circuit is usually caused by a strand of muscle that grows from atria all the way to the ventricle during womb development.
Ebstein’s anomaly is the only other cardiac condition that the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is linked to. If the tricuspid valve (valve separating the ventricle from the atrium) doesn’t develop properly, the Ebstein anomaly is bound to occur.
An electrocardiogram is usually the common test used to diagnose the asymptomatic individual with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. At times, use of laboratory monitoring equipment e.g. telemetry or Holter monitoring may also apply. Frequent blood tests may be conducted to check out any cardiac conditions that may start the tachycardia. Some tests for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are listed below:
Often, your physician will start with your historical health check. This includes:
After a successful positive test showing the existence of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, some treatment options may be taken into consideration depending on the degree of the symptoms. Most of the time, this heart abnormality is harmless and may last for just a few minutes without treatment. However, if your heart beats irregularly for over 20 minutes non-stop, you should visit your doctor and receive any of the below treatment:
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