Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome

My son was diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome when he was rushed to the emergency room this past October just a day after his 18th birthday. His heart started racing and would not slow down.

By the time he reached the hospital, it was beating at more that 200 beats per minute. They tried twice using the paddles to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm, and after an iv was able to get him stabilized.

Of course they did a drug test because when they see a teen with a high heart rate, drugs are usually the culprit...but not so in this case.

We didn't realize just how serious it was until the nurse told us that if he had waited any longer to get to the hospital, he would have died. Also, his age also played a factor in his survival...if it had happened to someone in their 30's or 40's, they would have died right on the spot.

After many, many hours in the emergency room, he was moved to the Cardiac ICU floor...he was the youngest patient on the floor. After several tests, the doctor concluded that he had Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. If you want to read more about it, click here.

The heart has electrical my son's case, he had an excess of electrical circuits.

WPW Syndrome can sometimes be controlled with medication - beta blockers, but the doctor felt that surgery was needed in his case. Fortunately, open heart surgery is no longer necessary and a less invasive type surgery - Catheter Ablation can be performed.

What is Catheter Ablation:
(copied from The American Heart Association)
"Once a CA is scheduled, patients usually stop taking medications previously used to try to control the tachycardia because on the day of the procedure, the electrophysiology (EP) doctor often needs to start an episode of tachycardia to determine what type it is and where it is coming from. After discussing risks and benefits of the procedure and giving informed consent, the patient is brought to the EP laboratory. Local anesthetic is used before catheter insertion in the groin and perhaps in one side of the neck, the elbow, or the area under the collarbone; 3 to 5 catheters are often used simultaneously. Once catheters are in the veins or artery, fluoroscopy (x-ray) is used as they are moved toward the heart and positioned in strategic locations. Recordings of the heart’s electrical activity are made from inside the heart. After tachycardia induction, a special ablation catheter is then maneuvered so its tip electrode is in contact with the abnormal tissue. The location of this ablation target is determined by a process called mapping, in which the ablation catheter is moved from spot to spot until the appropriate area is found. At this point, RF energy is turned on and, if the catheter location is correct, the tachycardia is eliminated (Figure 2). Testing is performed to see if tachycardia can be initiated again and the procedure is repeated if necessary. If tachycardia cannot be reinitiated, catheters are withdrawn from the body. The procedure usually takes 2 to 4 hours. In experienced laboratories, most types of SVT can be cured in over 95% of patients. "

My son did very well with the procedure, and after it was completed, was able to move off of the Cardio ICU floor into a regular room. You do have to lie still for a long period of time to prevent bleeding at the site in the groin.

He was released from the hospital a day after the operation.

However, the following month, he started having symptoms again, a racing heart...not to the degree that put him in the hospital, but enough to make him panic. The cardiologist gave him a 30 day heart monitor to wear... No other abnormal heart rhythms occurred while wearing the monitor. We all could breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, 6 months later, another episode sent him back to the ER. The doctors decided to try him on beta blockers after keeping him for observation, they sent him home. The next day, he was again back in the ER. The beta blockers lowered his blood pressure too much and he bottomed out. Doctors took him off the meds and he scheduled an appointment at the cardiologists office for yesterday.

At the cardiologist, they discovered more electrical circuits that were not removed during surgery. Also, they decided that he could not tolerate the medication as they already gave him the lowest dose possible. Now the only other alternative is surgery ---- again.

We are going to speak with the cardiologist today or tomorrow and schedule his surgery, which will take place in 1-3 weeks. I am just praying that this will be the last time.

1 comment:

Tonia Staggs said...

I really like your blog page and those that you follow. I sent my mom a link to it.
I hope that you received good news from your son today.

Tonia Staggs