Background Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is thought to be a congenital disease, however, its exact prevalence is not known. This may be because of the intermittent activity of accessory pathways in some cases and fluctuations in autonomic tone.
Aims To investigate the prevalence of ventricular preexcitation by electrocardiography and reported symptoms in each school age child in Yamanashi prefecture.
Methods From 1994 to 1996, answers to a questionnaire, results of physical examination, and electrocardiography were obtained from all schoolchildren in Yamanashi prefecture (n = 92 161; total population 880 000) on admission to elementary school (age 6 to 7 years, n = 28 395), junior high school (age 12 to 13 years, n = 31 206), and high school (age 14 to 15 years, n = 32 837).
Results Elementary and junior high school students had a significantly lower prevalence of preexcitation than high school students (0.073% and 0.070% v 0.174%, p < 0.001). The prevalence of left free wall pathway was highest in high school students (n = 27) compared with elementary (n = 6) and junior high school students (n = 5) (p < 0.005). The only symptom noted in the answers to the questionnaire was palpitations. The symptomatic cases were more frequent in high school (n = 13) than in elementary (n = 1) and junior high school (n = 2) children, but not significantly. No student with preexcitation had associated heart disease or family history of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome or sudden death.
Conclusions The prevalence of preexcitation in younger schoolchildren was less frequent than previously reported. The prevalence of preexcitation and left free wall pathways increased with age. The symptoms were few and there was no significant morbidity.
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
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