Eisenmenger Syndrome is a rare heart disease that develops in a person with certain structural problems in the heart. This medical condition is a congenital heart defect, present from birth. Eisenmenger Syndrome is also known by other names including Eisenmenger Disease, Eisenmenger Complex, Eisenmenger Reaction, and Eisenmenger Physiology. The disease is characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs and improper blood flow in the heart.
Cause Of Eisenmenger Syndrome
The most common heart defect associated with Eisenmenger Syndrome is a ventricular septal defect (VSD), commonly known as a “hole in the heart.” The hole causes blood to flow abnormally in the heart, mixing oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood. Instead of flowing throughout the body, this mixed blood returns to the lungs. There it causes high blood pressure, or pulmonary hypertension, which can lead to serious medical conditions.
Symptoms Of Eisenmenger Syndrome
Eisenmenger Syndrome usually develops in childhood, although it can also appear in young adulthood. The following symptoms may be an indication of the disease: abnormal heart rhythm; blue fingers, toes, lips, or skin; enlarged or clubbed fingers or toes; chest pain; fainting or dizziness; shortness of breath; coughing up blood; joint swelling or gout; and stroke.
Diagnosis Of Eisenmenger Syndrome
Cardiologists, or doctors with special training in heart disease, can diagnose Eisenmenger Syndrome and other congenital heart defects. A cardiologist will look at a patient’s medical history, perform a physical exam, and order a series of diagnostic tests. These tests include cardiac catheterization; chest x-ray; echocardiogram (ultrasound); electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG); MRI scan of the heart; blood tests; and a walking test.
Treatments For Eisenmenger Syndrome
Cardiologists, surgeons, and other specialists work together to develop treatment plans for people with Eisenmenger Syndrome. The disease can affect different body organs, so treatment must be individualized for each patient.
Surgery to repair a hole in the heart is risky after Eisenmenger Syndrome develops, and no treatment can cure the disease. But some treatments can prevent serious medical complications and improve a person’s quality of life. These include phlebotomy (blood removal) and volume replacement; oxygen; evaluation, observation, and monitoring; prescription medications; and a heart-lung transplant.
Complications From Eisenmenger Syndrome
How well a person with Eisenmenger Syndrome does with the disease depends on other medical conditions, as well as the age at which the pulmonary hypertension develops. Patients can live 20 to 50 years. Eisenmenger Syndrome can cause the following complications: brain hemorrhage; congestive heart failure; heart attack; gout; kidney failure; and stroke.
Eisenmenger Syndrome is preventable if surgery is performed early enough to repair the heart defect that causes the disease. People who experience symptoms of Eisenmenger Syndrome should consult a doctor so the condition can be managed quickly and effectively.