What're the symptoms of wolff-parkinson-white (WPW)?
People who have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may have no symptoms at all or may experience palpitations and, possibly, chest pain, shortness of breath, and fainting. Fainting indicates that the heart is beating so rapidly that it is unable to pump adequate amounts of blood to the brain. The palpitations may be described as skips, thumps, butterflies, fluttering,
or racing of the heart.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a common cause of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Very rarely, this syndrome results in a very fast, life-threatening heart rate during atrial fibrillation. When infants develop arrhythmias due to this syndrome, they may become short of breath or lethargic, stop eating well, or have rapid, visible pulsations of the chest. Heart failure may develop.
Typically, when teenagers or people in their early 20s first experience an arrhythmia due to this syndrome, it is an episode of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia that begins suddenly, often during exercise. It may last for only a few seconds or may persist for several hours. In a young and otherwise physically fit person, the episodes usually cause few symptoms. Nonetheless, a very fast heart rate is uncomfortable and distressing and can cause fainting. When episodes of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome occur later in life, they tend to produce more symptoms, such as fainting, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Atrial fibrillation may be particularly dangerous for people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The extra pathway can conduct the rapid impulses to the ventricles at a much faster rate than the normal pathway (through the atrioventricular node) can. The result is an extremely fast ventricular rate that may be life threatening. Not only is the heart very inefficient when it beats so rapidly, but this extremely fast heart rate may also progress to ventricular fibrillation, which is fatal unless treated immediately.