Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson White (WPW) syndrome describes those with an unusual EKG pattern and either clinical fast heart rates (tachycardias) and/or documented tachycardias.

Data estimates that 1 to 3 in 1,000 people may have WPW Syndrome. WPW-associated arrhythmias may cause sudden death in children and adolescents, but with increased awareness and effective treatment options, WPW syndrome can be diagnosed early – and we can prevent sudden deaths.


WPW is characterized by electrical abnormalities of the heart that are caused by electrical conduction over an accessory pathway (a microscopic electrical connection between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, atria and ventricles). This pathway is in addition to the AV node, the only normal electrical conductor between the atria and ventricles.

The cause of WPW syndrome is not known. In most cases, it is associated with a structurally and functionally normal heart, though occasionally can be associated with congenital heart disease or heart muscle abnormalities.

It is generally not considered to be hereditary, except in the very rare instance when associated with genetic mutation predisposing to WPW syndrome and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).


You may experience heart palpitations (fast heart rates), occasional lightheadedness, chest discomfort or shortness of breath.


Your doctor will determine a diagnosis for WPW with an electrocardiogram (ECG) and cardiac catheterization with diagnostic electrophysiologic testing.


In contrast to many other types of tachycardias, WPW syndrome can be regarded as potentially “curable” with daily medications or catheter ablation techniques. You should consult with a pediatric or adult cardiac electrophysiologist for expert evaluation and management.


How SADS and Hopkins Collaborate to Help ARVC Families

We often hear from those with ARVC wondering how both organizations can help support their family, and which resources each organization offers. Here are some answers to your questions. 

Get Support

Are you living with Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome? Would you like to connect with others for support and to share resources and information? Join SADS Connection!
To read stories of SADS families just like yours, and learn more about life with Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, visit our blog at SADS.org/blog.


WPW Syndrome Brochure