Symptoms

The severity of this condition is extremely variable and therefore the presentation of symptoms will also vary according to whether the abnormality of the tricuspid valve is mild, moderate or severe.  In less severe cases symptoms may not present until adulthood so those affected do not show any symptoms (they are said to be asymptomatic), and post mortems in elderly people have shown that those who have Ebstein’s in a mild form may actually go through their life unaware of its existence.  According to the Mayo Clinic even people with very abnormal valves may have minimal problems.  Often though, symptoms may gradually develop with age because of the increase in heart size, and these may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue, particularly on exertion
  • less tolerance to exercise compared to an identical peer group
  • a discolouration of the lips and skin because of low oxygen levels (cyanosis)
  • abnormal heart rythymns or palpitations (arrthymias)

In more severe cases symptoms may present at birth, particularly in terms of cyanosis (bluish skin/lips/nails).  Some cases may even be detected before birth although how the baby will be affected is not likely to be known until s/he is born.  Where signs and symptoms present at an early age then treatment and intervention is more likely to be required.

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