Vol 22, No 3 (2015)
Original articles
Published online: 2015-06-19

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Members of the emergency medical team may have difficulty diagnosing rapid atrial fibrillation in Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Edward Koźluk, Dariusz Timler, Dorota Zyśko, Agnieszka Piątkowska, Tomasz Grzebieniak, Jacek Gajek, Robert Gałązkowski, Artur Fedorowski
DOI: 10.5603/CJ.a2014.0086
Pubmed: 25428731
Cardiol J 2015;22(3):247-252.


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syn­drome is potentially life-threatening as it may deteriorate into ventricular fibrillation. The aim of this study was to assess whether the emergency medical team members are able to diagnose AF with a rapid ventricular response due to the presence of atrioventricular bypass tract in WPW syndrome.

Methods: The study group consisted of 316 participants attending a national congress of emergency medicine. A total of 196 questionnaires regarding recognition and management of cardiac arrhythmias were distributed. The assessed part presented a clinical scenario with a young hemodynamically stable man who had a 12-lead electrocardiogram performed in the past with signs of pre-excitation, and who presented to the emergency team with an irregular broad QRS-complex tachycardia.

Results: A total of 71 questionnaires were filled in. Only one responder recognized AF due to WPW syndrome, while 5 other responders recognized WPW syndrome and paroxysmal su­praventricular tachycardia or broad QRS-complex tachycardia. About 20% of participants did not select any diagnosis, pointing out a method of treatment only. The most common diagnosis found in the survey was ventricular tachycardia/broad QRS-complex tachycardia marked by approximately a half of the participants. Nearly 18% of participants recognized WPW syn­drome, whereas AF was recognized by less than 10% of participants.

Conclusions: Members of emergency medical teams have limited skills for recognizing WPW syndrome with rapid AF, and ventricular tachycardia is the most frequent incorrect diagnosis.