Thursday, April 26, 2007

How is WPW treated?

With some people, medications can be prescribed to help with heart arythimias, however these medicines have not been proven to "fix" WPW, just aid in symptom reduction.

The most effective method seems to be ablation surgery. Which is exactly what I had about six years ago when I was about 14 years old. THe surgery is quick, only about 2 hours long. A "wire" with an electrical node on the end inserted into both your neck and your groin.A catheter is also used. The electrical node at the end is what "zaps" away the extra accessory pathways.

For me, the experience was painless and left a barely noticeable scar on my neck. I stayed in the hospital over night and was walking out of the hospital the following afternoon.

I have a yearly checkup with my cardiologist now to just make sure nothing abnormal has appeared again.

So how is WPW diagnosed, especially if the person has no symptoms?

When I was diagnosed with WPW, my doctor noticed an unusual heart rythm at one of my regualr yearly checkups, I was about ten years old.

More commonly, an ECG( electrocardiogram) is taken. An excersice test can be a good determining test. When I did the exercise test I ran on a treadmill while the doctors measured my hear rate.

Symptoms of WPW include:

-Heart palpitations( flutter feeling of heart beats)
- Dizziness
-Shortness of breath without any activity
- Anxiety

And some people, like me, don't have symptoms at all

What is the cause of WPW?

WPW can occur at any age and may appear randomly or can also in many cases be genetic. Some parents who have extra accessory pathways due to WPW can pass it on to their children. More men then women seems to have WPW, for no known reason.

So What Is Wolff- Parkinson-White Syndrome(WPW)?

In a heart that's normal, your rhythm will star at the SA node, where it "fired", then an electrical signal spreads throughout the left and right atrias, causing heart contractions. This signal eventually travels to the AV node which bridges the signal from the Atrias to the ventricles. So from here the signal travels through ventricular walls, and they contract.
However, in a person's heart with WPW, your normal conduction pathway also houses some extra pathways known as "accessory pathways". They cause conduction impulses to travel faster than is normal and conduct impulses in both directions. So your signal from your SA node takes these accessory pathways as a "short cut" to travel quickly around the heart. The result is an unusually quick heart rate.

There is a great picture representation of the heart rate difference between a normal heart and heart of a person with WPW at : WPW picture click here