Overview

In Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, an extra electrical pathway between your heart's upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat. The extra pathway is present at birth and fairly rare.

The episodes of fast heartbeats usually aren't life-threatening, but serious heart problems can occur. Treatment can stop or prevent episodes of fast heartbeats. A catheter-based procedure (ablation) can permanently correct the heart rhythm problems.

Most people with an extra electrical pathway experience no fast heartbeat. This condition, called Wolff-Parkinson-White pattern, is discovered only by chance during a heart exam. Although WPW pattern is often harmless, doctors might recommend further evaluation before children with WPW pattern participate in high-intensity sports.

Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome care at Mayo Clinic