Tricuspid Valve Disease
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The tricuspid valve sits between the right chambers of the heart (atrium and ventricle). In tricuspid valve disease, the tricuspid valve does not work properly.
There are two types of tricuspid valve disease:
- Tricuspid regurgitation
- Tricuspid stenosis
Tricuspid regurgitation, also called tricuspid valve regurgitation, occurs when the valve does not close tightly, allowing blood to flow back into the atrium. This can increase blood pressure in the right atrium, causing it to enlarge. Common causes of tricuspid regurgitation include elevated blood pressure within the lungs, weakened function of the right ventricle, or more rarely trauma, infection or medical devices such as a pacemaker.
Tricuspid stenosis, or tricuspid valve stenosis, occurs when the tricuspid valve becomes narrow or blocked, restricting blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle. When the tricuspid valve is too tight, this can cause enlargement, affecting the pressure and blood flow into the heart chambers and veins. Similarly, it can cause the right ventricle to shrink, and reduce blood flow where it is needed. It is predominantly caused by rheumatic fever and is rare in North America.
Tricuspid Valve Disease Symptoms
Symptoms of tricuspid regurgitation are usually mild and can include the following:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Swelling of the abdomen, feet or ankles
Tricuspid stenosis can include the following symptoms:
- Palpitations (sensation of feeling our heartbeat)
- Neck discomfort
- Cold skin
- Abdominal discomfort
Treating Tricuspid Valve Disease
Symptoms of tricuspid regurgitation can generally be managed with diuretics (also known as water pills, medicines that produce urine). More severe symptoms may require surgical valve repair or replacement.
Tricuspid stenosis is usually benign, requiring no specific treatment, but some patients may benefit from surgery on the tricuspid valve, often performed in combination with mitral valve surgery or aortic valve disease repair.