Accessory pathway tachycardia

Also known as Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, this condition is characterized by an abnormal span of tissue, called an accessory pathway, connecting the atria and ventricles. This abnormal pathway is present at birth and results from the incomplete separation of the top from the bottom parts of the heart. This extra pathway may lead to very rapid heart rhythms – some of which may be life-threatening.

Most people with accessory pathway tachycardia experience palpitations or outright heart-racing. Other symptoms may include chest pain, pulsations in the neck, shortness of breath, light-headedness, fatigue, sweating, passing out, and (though rarely) cardiac arrest. After an episode of accessory pathway tachycardia, the patient may have frequent urination (due to release of a protein from the top heart chambers that stimulates urine formation) or feel fatigued for hours to days. Some patients with accessory pathway tachycardia, however, experience no symptoms at all.