Eisenmenger syndrome. Factors relating to deterioration and death

Eur Heart J. 1998 Dec;19(12):1845-55. doi: 10.1053/euhj.1998.1046.


Aims: To assess the natural history, risk factors for death and deterioration of patients with Eisenmenger Syndrome.

Methods: The clinical course of 188 patients from three different cardiac centres specialized in adult congenital heart defects, followed for a median period of 31 years, was retrospectively analysed. According to the diagnosis, 64 males and 124 females, mean age at last follow-up 33.02+/-12.8 years, were divided into two groups: simple (128) and complex (60) congenital heart disease. Events analysed were: time variation of Ability Index, pulmonary and cerebral complications, non-cardiac surgery, urate metabolism and renal function, arrhythmias, pregnancy and contraception, medical therapy and transplantation, death from all causes and sudden death.

Results: Eighty-four percent of the overall population showed a satisfactory Ability Index (1 and 2) at the first attendance (median age 25 years). Patients with complex heart disease and Eisenmenger reaction had earlier clinical deterioration (18.6+/-11.3 vs 26.7+/-12.2) and shorter survival (25.8+/-7.9 vs 32.5+/-14.6 years). Thirty-eight (20.2%) patients had at least one episode of haemoptysis between 20 and 40 years of age but it did not modify overall survival; 25 (13.2%) had pulmonary thromboembolism at a mean age of 35.2+/-13.4 years. Fifteen (7.9%) had a stroke and 7 (3.7%) a cerebral abscess at a mean age of 31.4+/-15.7 and 24.1+/-4.9 years, respectively. Cerebral complications influenced the quality of life but did not modify survival. Patients who had venesection showed a 2.04 times greater hazard ratio for haemoptysis. Venesection did not reduce cerebral complications and in 20% caused anaemia and iron deficiency. Other non-cardiac surgery with general anaesthesia carried risks (23.5% of deaths). Significant maternal mortality (27%) in relation to pregnancy occurred with constant deterioration in physical status, high incidence of spontaneous abortions (35.8%) and cardiac abnormalities in offspring (20%). Sixty-one patients died during follow-up, mainly by sudden death (29.5%), heart failure (22.9%) and from haemoptysis (11.4%). Eight patients had heart and lung transplantation and five died 1 week to 4 years after transplant. Deterioration in Ability Index (worsening symptoms), age, complex defects, blood creatinine level, right ventricular dysfunction and non-cardiac surgery were variables which affected the prognosis adversely with uni- and multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: patients with Eisenmenger syndrome can survive to the seventh decade with informed medical care and protection from special risks

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death
  • Contraception
  • Eisenmenger Complex / complications
  • Eisenmenger Complex / mortality*
  • Eisenmenger Complex / therapy
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors