Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome
Signs and Symptoms

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may cause the following symptoms:

  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Fainting, also known as syncope, or near-syncope
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Palpitations, which can be skipping, fluttering or pounding in the chest
  • Shortness of breath

It is important to note that during an episode of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, children may not know how to describe what they are feeling. They may have trouble keeping up with other children or realize they are having "spells" and want to sit down and rest. Sometimes, children do not experience any symptoms at all.

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can exhibit in the following ways:

WPW Sinus Rhythm

This diagram illustrates the extra connection shown during a normal sinus rhythm, or the normal transmission of impulses through the heart.

WPW Orthodromic Reciprocating Tachycardia-Common

This diagram illustrates how the electrical impulse flows down the normal atrioventricular (AV) node from the atrium to the ventricle and then returns back to the atrium via the extra pathway, which acts as a "short circuit" perpetuating the arrhythmia.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Heart Center

Arrhythmia Center
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 514-2783
Fax: (415) 353-4144
Appointment information

Pediatric Heart Center Clinic at Mission Bay
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2008
Fax: (415) 353-4144
Appointment information

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
1975 Fourth St., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1955
Fax: (415) 353-9144

Patient Experiences