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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Eisenmenger syndrome

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What causes Eisenmenger syndrome?

Eisenmenger syndrome is caused by a defect in the heart. Most often, the defect is one called a ventricular septal defect (VSD), a hole between the two pumping chambers (the left and right ventricles) of the heart. Other heart defects that can lead to Eisenmenger syndrome include atrial septal defect (ASD) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).  The hole allows blood that has already picked up oxygen from the lungs to flow abnormally back into the lungs, instead of going out to the rest of the body.

Over time, this increased blood flow can damage the small blood vessels in the lungs. This causes high blood pressure in the lungs. As a result, the blood backs up and does not go to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Instead, the blood goes from the right side to the left side of the heart, and oxygen-poor blood travels to the rest of the body. [1]
Last updated: 10/21/2010

  1. Kurt R. Schumacher. Eisenmenger syndrome. MD Consult. February, 2010; Accessed 10/19/2010.