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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Anomalous ventricular excitation syndrome
  • Auriculoventricular accessory pathway syndrome
  • False bundle branch block syndrome
  • Preexcitation syndrome
  • Ventricular familial preexcitation syndrome
More Names
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Your Question

My son has been diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. Should other members of my family be tested for this condition?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome?

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a condition that disrupts the heart's normal rhythm (arrhythmia). People with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are born with a heart abnormality that affects the coordinated movement of electrical signals through the heart.  This abnormality leads to an abnormally fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and other arrhythmias. In most cases, the cause of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is unknown. A small percentage of cases are caused by mutations in the PRKAG2 gene. These cases appear to be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.[1] 
Last updated: 12/31/2012

What causes Wolff Parkinson White syndrome?

Normally, electrical signals in the heart go through a pathway that helps the heart beat regularly. The wiring of the heart prevents extra beats from occurring and keeps the next beat from happening too soon. In people with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, there is an extra, or accessory, pathway that may cause a very rapid heart rate.[2] This extra electrical pathway is present at birth.[3] A mutation in the PRKAG2 gene  is the cause of a small percentage of cases of the disorder.[1][3] Otherwise, little is known about why this extra pathway develops.[3]  
Last updated: 8/14/2009

Is Wolff Parkinson White syndrome inherited?

Most cases of Wolff Parkinson White syndrome occur in people with no apparent family history of the condition. These cases are described as sporadic and are not inherited.[1]

Familial Wolff Parkinson White syndrome accounts for only a small percentage of all cases of this condition. The familial form of the disorder typically has an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. In most cases, a person with familial Wolff Parkinson White syndrome has inherited the condition from an affected parent.[1]

Last updated: 4/8/2009

Since my son is affected, should other members of my family be tested for this condition?

If you are concerned about other members of your family, we recommend that you schedule a consultation with a genetics professional. This type of healthcare provider can ascertain if genetic testing is warranted and facilitate testing for members of your family who may be at risk. Click here to learn more about genetic consultations.

To find a genetics clinic, we recommend that you contact your primary doctor for a referral. Additional resources to assist you in locating a genetics professional are available in the Services section of the Resources page for this condition.

Last updated: 4/8/2009