Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome: Best Health Guide 2022
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome
Wolff Parkinson syndrome is a congenital syndrome and a relatively rare medical condition that affects the heart’s average blood circulation. In this syndrome, your heart beats at a faster pace than usual. The involved usually experience episodes of rapid heartbeats that are not life-threatening. However, Wolff Parkinson White syndrome can result in other cardiovascular conditions if the episodes occur more often.
What causes Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome?
Naturally, our heart has an electrical conduction system that helps coordinate and maintain blood flow through each of the four heart chambers. When the heartbeats, the heart muscle walls contract, pumping the blood out to other parts of the body. After a successful contraction, the heart walls relax, allowing blood to fill back in for the next blood pumping cycle. All this is achieved through electrical signaling.
In Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, the heart develops an extra electrical connection, so these rapid heart beating episodes. Furthermore, this additional connection allows the electrical signal to bypass the normal conduction pathway, resulting in a short circuit with fast heartbeats. What causes this extra strand to develop in the first place is still unclear. Moreover, the syndrome is a congenital condition. The additional electrical signal originates while the baby is still in the womb.
How is Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome diagnosed?
As mentioned earlier, the affected experience periodic episodes of fast heartbeats. Moreover, some other symptoms experienced during the attack include chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, sweating, and an elevated feeling of anxiousness. After you or your doctor identifies the symptoms, an ECG (electrocardiogram) is recommended to properly evaluate the heart rhythm and its electrical activity. As there is increased electrical activity in Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, an ECG is the best initial diagnostic test to detect the heart’s fluctuations.
Small electrodes are placed on your wrists, ankles, and chest to note down the heart’s electrical activity. The ECG machine will record any abnormal heart activity caused by the syndrome. To further confirm the diagnosis and record the episodes, your doctor will advise you to wear a portable ECG recorder for a couple of days. This abnormal rhythm in medical terms is called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Is Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome hereditary?
Typically, the cases of Wolff Parkinson white syndrome don’t have any family history, which could help researchers link inheritance to the disease. However, there is one type called familial Wolff Parkinson white syndrome, related to having gene mutation with the onset of the disease. Defected genes can be transferred from a father or the mother to their offspring. This syndrome is autosomal dominant, meaning that a defective gene from only one parent is necessary to develop the syndrome. Moreover, the risk of passing down a defective gene to the offspring is around fifty percent.
Researchers have identified one gene called PRKAG2 located at the long arm of chromosome 7, responsible for developing familial Wolff Parkinson syndrome. Some researchers also believe that the syndrome is a glycogen storage disorder where the glycogen cannot break down to glucose and accumulate in the cells. The syndrome is congenital; however, it is usually detected between the age of 30 to 40.
How do you fix Wolff Parkinson White?
There are various Wolff Parkinson White syndrome treatments, including observation without intervention, therapeutic medications, and a surgical procedure named catheter ablation. After diagnostic procedures are completed, your healthcare professional will determine which treatment is best suited for you. The chosen treatment depends on several factors, with the important ones being the severity of fast heartbeat episodes, age, cardiovascular system health, and overall physical health. Let’s take a look at the various treatment options recommended according to the disease’s symptoms and severity.
Observation without intervention
Many individuals diagnosed with the syndrome might not present with any of the symptoms. Such cases are and referred to as asymptomatic, where your doctor recommends no treatment. However, timely follow-ups are mandatory to monitor the heart rate and functionality over time.
Treatment through medications
The episodes experienced in Wolff Parkinson white syndrome are due to the abnormally beating heart that disrupts the blood flow. In medical terms, this condition is known as arrhythmia, where the heart does not beat in rhythm. Healthcare professionals prescribe antiarrhythmic drugs for treatment after an extensive evaluation of the symptoms, relative risk, and general health. The most commonly used antiarrhythmic drugs include adenosine, amiodarone, procainamide, and ibutilide. Verapamil, a calcium-channel blocker, is also prescribed to control the irregular beating of the heart. However, the medication is known to cause serious cardiovascular problems.
Some individuals diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome do not show improvement with medications. In contrast, others may not be able to tolerate the treatment due to the adverse effects. Such individuals are advised to opt for surgery. The surgical procedure used in the treatment is known as catheter ablation. This procedure is also recommended to individuals who have severe symptoms and are at risk of other cardiovascular conditions.
In the past, open-heart surgery was conducted to treat Wolff Parkinson white syndrome. Still, after the catheter ablation development, this minimally invasive procedure is being adopted as the most appropriate surgical procedure.
A tiny tube (catheter) is guided to the heart area where the abnormal conduction pathway is present. The unnecessary path is then removed (ablated) with the help of high-frequency electrical energy. Catheter ablation has shown to have promising outcomes. It eradicates the extra pathways that were keeping the heart to behave abnormally.
Healthcare professionals now have access to accurate genetic testing, which can detect many diseases and syndromes, including Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. Moreover, the syndrome is also seen to occur along with other conditions like Pompe disease, Danon disease, and Ebstein anomaly, to name a few. Typically, the syndrome is not life-threatening; however, certain cardiovascular system complications could occur, resulting in a fatal situation.