Skip to main content

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome


Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome

is a condition that causes tachycardia (fast heartbeat). A normal heartbeat is about 60 to 100 beats per minute. WPW causes 100 or more heartbeats per minute. WPW develops because an extra piece of heart muscle causes more electrical activity within your heart. WPW can develop for no known reason. Congenital heart disease or a family history of WPW can increase your risk.

Common signs and symptoms:

You may have no symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • Fast, irregular, fluttering, or pounding heartbeats
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Dizziness or feeling like you are going to faint
  • Urinating more than usual, or sweating heavily

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have chest pain.
  • You have fast or abnormal heartbeats even after treatment.
  • You feel dizzy or faint.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


may include medicines to slow or regulate your heartbeat. You may also need radiofrequency (RF) ablation or cardioversion. RF ablation is a procedure used to send energy to the area of your heart that has an electrical problem. Cardioversion is a procedure used to give your heart an electrical shock. The shock may help put your heartbeat back into a normal rhythm.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Vagal maneuvers:

Vagal maneuvers are methods that can slow your heartbeat during a WPW episode. Your healthcare provider may recommend you cough, gag, hold your breath, or put ice on your face.

Do not smoke:

Smoking narrows blood vessels in your heart. Narrow blood vessels make your heart work harder. Smoking can also damage your heart. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

Carry medical alert identification:

Wear jewelry or carry a card that says you have WPW. Ask your healthcare provider where to get these items.

Exercise as directed:

Exercise can cause episodes of irregular heartbeats. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need each day and which exercises are safe for you. Ask if you can play sports.

Limit caffeine:

Caffeine can make your heartbeat faster.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.