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Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome is a heart rhythm problem that causes a very fast heart rate. It happens because you have an extra electrical pathway in your heart. WPW is a congenital heart problem. This means you were born with the problem.
You may have a fast heart rate or feel a fluttering in your chest (palpitations), feel chest pain, feel light-headed or dizzy, or faint. When you have these symptoms, it is called an episode. Some people do not have symptoms.
Very rarely, a WPW episode can trigger a heart rhythm that can cause death.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help slow down your heartbeat. Your doctor may also suggest you try vagal manoeuvres when having an episode of WPW. These are things, like bearing down, that might help slow your heart rate. Bearing down means that you try to breathe out with your stomach muscles but you don't let air out of your nose or mouth. Your doctor can show you how to do vagal manoeuvres. The doctor may suggest that you lie down on your back to do them.
In some cases, a procedure called catheter ablation is done.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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