Ebstein’s Anomaly occurs when the valve between the heart’s right chambers, called the tricuspid valve, fails to form properly. In Ebstein’s Anomaly, the tricuspid valve is farther down into the right ventricle than it should be. As a result, the right ventricle becomes part of the right atrium, making the right atrium larger than usual. This can cause blood to leak back into the valve, causing the heart to work inefficiently. Over time, Ebstein’s Anomaly may lead to enlargement of the heart or heart failure. In severe cases of Ebstein’s Anomaly, symptoms will present shortly after a child’s birth. However, mild cases may not become apparent for years.
Symptoms of Ebstein’s Anomaly
In some instances, Ebstein’s Anomaly can cause a bluish discoloration of the fingers and lips called cyanosis. The hole between the atrial chambers can also allow blood clots to pass from the right side of the heart to the left, increasing the risk of tissue damage in the heart or strokes in the brain. Children with Ebstein’s Anomaly may also have an abnormal heart rhythm that may result in fainting, a feeling of their heart racing or skipping beats, shortness of breath, or dizziness. Serious symptoms of the condition include:
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue, especially with exertion
- Leg swelling
- Heart palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- A bluish discoloration of the lips and skin caused by low oxygen (cyanosis)
Treatment of Ebstein’s Anomaly
Treatment of Ebstein’s Anomaly will depend on its severity. Careful monitoring of the heart condition with regular checkups will be prescribed for patients not suffering from abnormal heart rhythms or other symptoms. In some instances, medications may be prescribed to control heart rhythms. Surgical repair is needed when Ebstein’s Anomaly has the potential to affect the quality of life or when the heart begins to enlarge and overall heart function begins to decrease.