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.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Drugs
- Digoxin (LANOXIN)
- Verapamil (CALAN)
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Symptoms
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:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Insufficient breath
- Rapid uncommon thorax pulsations
Pediatric and Adult Wolff-Parkinson-White symptoms
- Heart palpitations
- Uncommonly racing heart
- Syncope, Dizziness
- Over anxiety
- Sudden death (uncommon)
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.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Causes
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.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Diagnosis
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:
- Total blood count
- Liver compatibility tests
- Drug screening
- Thyroid panel
Often, your physician will start with your historical health check. This includes:
- Thoraxial x-rays- To trace and monitor any abnormal changes of the heart size.
- Blood tests- To look out for any thyroid hormone potassium levels. These are suspected to cause some heart rhythm disorders.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Treatment
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:
- Medications- The use of some certified drugs like adenosine.
- Catheter ablation- An internal operation that uses a catheter to destroy the extra electrical pathway.
- Surgery- The actual open heart incision. A rare operation that is only conducted if another heart condition is being treated.
- Artificial pacemaker- These are artificial implants that doctors use to help regulate the heartbeat of the patient.
- Positive lifestyle changes- For those with WPW that is not chronic. Positive lifestyle changes can help avert abnormal heart rhythms. Avoiding tobacco and alcohol. Coughing, placing a cold cloth on the face.
- Electrical cardioversion (shock)- An artificial shock to the heart to jumpstart and restore the heart back to normalcy. Recommended when other treatments fail.