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Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Preexcitation syndrome; WPW


    Medication may be used to control or prevent rapid heart beating. These include adenosine, antiarrhythmics, and amiodarone.

    If the heart rate does not return to normal with medication, doctors may use a type of therapy called electrical cardioversion (shock).

    The current preferred therapy for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is catheter ablation. This procedure involves inserting a tube (catheter) into an artery through a small cut near the groin up to the heart area. When the tip reaches the heart, the small area that is causing the fast heart rate is destroyed using a special type of energy called radiofrequency.

    Open heart surgery may also provide a permanent cure for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. However, surgery is usually done only if the patient must have surgery for other reasons.

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Catheter ablation cures this disorder in most patients. The success rate for the procedure ranges between 85 - 95%. Success rate will vary depending on location of accessory pathway and number of accessory pathways.

    • Complications of surgery
    • Reduced blood pressure (caused by continous rapid heart rate)
    • Heart failure
    • Side effects of medications

    The most severe form of a rapid heart beat is ventricular fibrillation. It may rapidly lead to shock, and requires emergency treatment (cardioversion).

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White develop, or if you have this disorder and symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.