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Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a fairly common (about 1 to 3 in 1000 people) condition where an abnormal electrical connection exists in the heart. This can cause the ventricles to contract prematurely and lead to superventricular tachycardia. Many people with the abnormal pathway are completely asymptomatic, but in rare cases, it can lead to a combination of tachycardia and arrythmia that can be fatal.
Wolff-Parkinson-White is generally diagnosed by examination of an EKG which shows an abnormal slurred QRS upstroke and a shortened PR interval in a normal sinus rhythm. When it is discovered, the patient must have a full medical history taken to see if they are at risk for sudden death from the condition. In addition, an invasive heart study should be performed. In low risk individuals, the characteristic abnormal rhythm actually disappears with a higher heart rate, but in high risk individuals the reverse is true.
If a patient exhibits severe symptoms such as lethargy, low blood pressure or altered mental status, electrical impulses can be used to establish a normal rhythm. In most cases, the condition can be managed with pharmaceuticals.
Meat Loaf suffers from the condition.