Symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are the result of a fast heart rate. They most often appear for the first time in people in their teens or 20s. Common symptoms of WPW syndrome include:
- Sensation of rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats (palpitations)
- Tiring easily during exercise
An episode of a very fast heartbeat can begin suddenly and last for a few seconds or several hours. Episodes often happen during exercise. Caffeine or other stimulants and alcohol may be a trigger for some people. Over time, symptoms of WPW may disappear in as many as 25 percent of people who experience them.
Symptoms in more-serious cases
About 10 to 30 percent of people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome occasionally experience a type of irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. In these people WPW signs and symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
- Rarely, sudden death
Symptoms in infants
Symptoms in infants with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of alertness or activity
- Poor eating
- Fast heartbeats visible on the chest
Most people who have an extra electrical pathway in the heart experience no fast heartbeat and no symptoms. This condition, called Wolff-Parkinson-White pattern, is discovered only by chance when a person is undergoing a heart exam for other reasons. Wolff-Parkinson-White pattern is harmless in many people. But doctors may recommend further evaluation before children with WPW pattern participate in high-intensity sports.
When to see a doctor
A number of conditions can cause irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). It's important to get a prompt, accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. See your doctor if you or your child experiences any symptoms associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than a few minutes:
March 19, 2014
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
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