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West J Med. 1990 April; 152(4): 383–391.
PMCID: PMC1002357

Current management of the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.


The Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a multifaceted disorder that ranges from asymptomatic to life threatening. Accounting for approximately 20% of cases of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and with a prevalence perhaps as high as 1 per 500, it is far from a rare disorder. Considering the potentially lethal complications following the administration of digoxin or verapamil, all physicians treating arrhythmias should know when to suspect the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. A careful review of electrocardiograms helps identify cases of the disorder despite a wide range of findings that may mimic other conditions. Major advances in the efficacy of surgical procedures to cure this syndrome make this a reasonable alternative to life-long medical therapy for many patients. Unfortunately, available diagnostic tests lack the positive predictive value to reliably distinguish patients at risk of sudden death. This review is an update for general internists of the major developments in the evaluation and treatment of the disorder and provides specific examples helpful in differentiating these patients.

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