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Monday, April 9, 2007
Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome


Whatever it is, it's in the heart of the #2 pick in the 2006 NBA draft, and it's the reason LaMarcus Aldridge won't be playing anymore this year.

I wish him well, he seems like a stellar young man, and he's going to be an amazing player.

This whole episode began with a rapid heartbeat that was initially thought to be have been caused by dehydration. Now, we find out, the Bundle of Kent was involved.

The Associated Press reports:

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is a rare disorder involving irregularities in the heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia). Patients have an extra circuit or pathway, called the Bundle of Kent, through which electrical signals are conducted to the heart, allowing excessive stimulation. Palpitations (sensation of rapid or irregular beating of the heart), weakness, and shortness of breath may occur.

These arrhythmias frequently stop spontaneously or with simple maneuvers but may require taking medications daily if they persist.

Aldridge reportedly may be ready to go in time for summer league.

The American Heart Association explains the treatment options:

People without symptoms usually don't need treatment. People with episodes of tachycardia can often be treated with medication. But sometimes such treatment doesn't work. Then they'll need to have more tests of their heart's electrical system.

The most common procedure used to interrupt the abnormal pathway is radiofrequency or catheter ablation. In this, a flexible tube called a catheter is guided to the place where the problem exists. Then that tissue is destroyed with radiofrequency energy, stopping the electrical pathway. Successful ablation ends the need for medication. Whether a person will be treated with medication or with an ablation procedure depends on several factors. These include the severity and frequency of symptoms, risk for future arrhythmias and patient preference.

One study finds that the ablation procedure -- which Aldridge may or may not have already had, it's unclear -- has a 95% success rate. 

Now I realize that Casey Holdahl at Oregonlive's Blazer Blog has this story covered like a blanket. Head there if you want more information.