How Does EDS Affect Heart Health and Function?

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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EDS and heart health

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a group of rare diseases that affect connective tissue, which gives structure and support to muscles, skin, joints, and organs. Among the several types of EDS, some can affect the heart.

What types of EDS affect heart function?

Two rare types of EDS can cause heart problems:

Cardiac-valvular EDS (cvEDS) affects the connective tissue that forms the heart valves. These valves control how the blood flows out of the heart with every heartbeat. Patients with cvEDS have progressive weakening of the heart valves and may have problems such as high blood pressure.

Patients with vascular EDS (vEDS) have weakened blood vessels that may rupture or tear spontaneously or as a result of accidents. This type of tearing can cause severe bleeding that may require surgery.

Although the most common forms of EDS — classical and hypermobile — do not typically cause heart problems, these problems can happen. In addition to weak, easily dislocated joints, and soft, fragile skin, these patients may also have weak blood vessels that are easily stretched or torn. In rare cases, patients with these EDS types have fast heart rates and low blood pressure. Some studies have shown that they may also have a high risk of heart valve problems but this finding is somewhat controversial.

How do doctors treat heart problems in EDS?

If you have EDS, your doctor will determine whether you need heart scans like an electrocardiogram to evaluate the health of your heart valves. If you have valve abnormalities, your doctor will determine whether a valve replacement surgery would be helpful for you, and discuss the pros and cons of the surgery.

After experiencing an accident or a blood vessel tear, you may need surgery to repair the tear.


Last updated: July 15, 2020


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