Eisenmenger syndrome

Eisenmenger (I-sun-meng-uhr) syndrome is a complication of a heart defect that you're born with (congenital). A heart defect that causes a hole (shunt) to develop between two chambers of your heart is the most common cause of Eisenmenger syndrome. This hole causes blood to circulate abnormally in your heart and lungs. Increased blood flow returns to your lungs instead of going to the rest of your body. The blood vessels in your lung arteries become stiff and narrow, increasing the pressure in your lung's arteries. This permanently damages the blood vessels in your lungs.

Eisenmenger syndrome occurs when the increased pressure of the blood flow in the lung becomes so great that the direction of blood flow through the shunt reverses. Oxygen-poor (blue) blood from the right side of the heart flows into the left ventricle and is pumped to your body, making it so that you don't receive enough oxygen to all your organs and tissues. Eisenmenger syndrome is a life-threatening condition requiring careful medical monitoring. Medications can improve symptoms and prognosis.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Eisenmenger syndrome signs and symptoms include:

  • Bluish or grayish skin color (cyanosis)
  • Large, rounded fingernails or toenails (clubbing)
  • Easily tiring and shortness of breath with activity
  • Shortness of breath while at rest
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Skipped or racing heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes
  • Headaches

When to see a doctor

If you have any signs or symptoms of Eisenmenger syndrome, make an appointment to see your doctor. Even if you haven't previously been diagnosed with a heart defect, symptoms such as cyanosis and shortness of breath are signals that you have a health problem that needs medical attention.

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