Eisenmenger Syndrome – Symptoms, Tests, & Treatments | MedStar Health

Monitoring and treating a life-threatening complication of some congenital heart defects

Eisenmenger syndrome is a condition that results from abnormal blood flow caused by a congenital heart defect. The condition most often develops due to a hole between the chambers of the heart or blood vessels leading from the heart, such as atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect or patent ductus arteriosus.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Eisenmenger syndrome, you’ll need to see a specialist regularly to monitor the condition. If you’re female, you and your doctor may need to discuss birth control, as pregnancy can pose serious health risks to mom and baby. The team in our adult congenital heart center has specialized training in the lifelong care that adults with congenital heart defects may require.

This condition may develop at any point during a person’s life. If left untreated, it can lead to:

  • Arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat

  • Cyanosis, low oxygen levels in the blood

  • Erythrocytosis, high red blood cell count

  • Heart failure

  • Kidney problems

  • Stroke

Over time, abnormal blood flow can damage blood vessels in the lungs, leading to a type of high blood pressure known as pulmonary hypertension. Blood may begin to flow backward, allowing oxygen-poor blood to travel through the body.

Tests

Diagnosing Eisenmenger syndrome is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.

Computerized tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Stress tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Treatments

While there is no cure for Eisenmenger syndrome, your doctor may recommend medication or surgery to treat the symptoms and prevent serious complications.

Congenital heart disease treatments

Treatments for congenital heart conditions range from atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale closures to cardiac ablations and heart valve replacements to heart transplants.

Additional information

Adult congenital heart center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.