Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Also known as: WPW syndrome, WPW pattern, cardiac arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, accessory pathway syndrome.

What is Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome?

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a rare disorder of the heart's electrical system, present at birth, where, rather than the electrical signals (those make the heart chambers contract) going down their normal pathway, there is an extra electrical pathway (also called an accessory pathway) between the chambers of the heart.

What causes Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome?

In most children the cause of WPW is unknown. In a few patients it is a genetic abnormality inherited from a child's parents. It may also be associated with other medical conditions.


What are the signs/symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome?

Children with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may or may not have any symptoms. Typical symptoms include:

  • rapid or irregular pounding heartbeats (which can last anywhere from several seconds to several hours)
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • fainting (syncope)
  • sweating
  • chest pain or tightness
  • heart palpitations


What are Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome care options?

Many children need no treatment; when needed, self help maneuvers such as coughing, holding one's breath or ice on the face may slow the heartbeat. Other treatments include medications to slow or regulate the hearts’ beat, radiofrequency ablation (a procedure which causes a scar in the heart’s abnormal pathway, allowing the heart to beat normally), and cardioversion (which electrically shocks the heart).

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD

This page was last updated on: 8/24/2017 2:22:53 PM

From the Newsdesk

Baby Grace Beats All Odds Despite Rocky Start to Life
08/28/2017 — Grace was transferred to Nicklaus Children’s for what referring doctors believed were complications associated with neonatal sepsis. Soon after, the care team learned Grace had an enlarged failing heart due to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a complex congenital heart defect that essentially means the baby was born with half a heart. 
Free EKG Screening for Student Athletes
08/17/2017 — Every 3 days, the life of a young athlete is lost due to sudden cardiac death. Usually, there are no advanced signs or symptoms. But the saddest part is that it's entirely preventable. A simple EKG screenig can detect heart problems before it's too late. Miami Children's Hospital is offering this invaluable test free of charge to middle and high school sports participants.

To Top