Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW) is a problem with the heart’s electrical activity. It causes the heart to beat with an
and faster than normal. This is called tachyarrhythmia.
If left untreated, it can increase the risk of sudden death.
WPW happens when the heart's signals travel along an extra, abnormal pathway. The signals make the lower chamber of the heart contract abnormally. As a result, the heart beats much faster than it should.
The extra pathway is caused by abnormal tissue that connects the heart’s chambers. The tissue forms before birth.
It is not clear what causes this to happen. Rarely, it may be due to a gene that is inherited.
Atrial fibrillation and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/atrial-fibrillation-and-wolff-parkinson-white-syndrome-wpw. Accessed September 14, 2021.
Cardiac bypass tracts. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cardiac-bypass-tracts. Accessed September 14, 2021.
De Ponti R, Bagliani G, et al. Change of paradigm in the management of patients with accessory pathways over the last forty years: Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome as an electrophysiological marvel at risk of extinction. Card Electrophysiol Clin. 2020;12(4):431-436.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/wolff-parkinson-white-syndrome. Accessed September 14, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/14/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.