Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.


Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Print friendly version

Marfan syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Contractural arachnodactyly
  • Marfan syndrome type 1
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.


Newline Maker

What are the signs and symptoms of Marfan syndrome?

The signs and symptoms of Marfan syndrome vary widely in severity, timing of onset, and rate of progression. Affected individuals often are tall and lean, have elongated fingers and toes (arachnodactyly), and have an arm span that exceeds body height. Other common features include unusually flexible joints, a long and narrow face, a highly arched roof of the mouth and crowded teeth, an abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis), and either a sunken chest (pectus excavatum) or a protruding chest (pectus carinatum). About half of people with Marfan syndrome have a dislocated lens (ectopia lentis) in one or both eyes, and most have some degree of nearsightedness (myopia). Clouding of the lens (cataract) may occur in mid adulthood, and increased pressure within the eye (glaucoma) occurs more frequently than in people without Marfan syndrome.

Most people with Marfan syndrome have abnormalities of the heart and the aorta. Leaks in valves that control blood flow through the heart can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and an irregular heartbeat felt as skipped or extra beats (palpitations). If leakage occurs, it usually affects the mitral valve, which is a valve between two chambers of the heart, or the aortic valve that regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta. The first few inches of the aorta can weaken and stretch, which may lead to a bulge in the blood vessel wall (an aneurysm). The increased size of the aorta may cause the aortic valve to leak, which can lead to a sudden tearing of the layers in the aorta wall (aortic dissection). Aortic aneurysm and dissection can be life threatening. [1]
Last updated: 2/25/2011

  1. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Marfan Syndrome?. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. 2010; Accessed 10/15/2013.