What is tricuspid valve disease?
For more information on valve disease and its treatment, see Valve Disease
The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium (top chamber) and right ventricle (bottom chamber). Its role is to make sure blood flows in a forward direction from the right atrium to the ventricle.
Tricuspid valve disease refers to abnormal function of the tricuspid valve. Two types of tricuspid disease include:
- Tricuspid regurgitation - the valve is leaky or doesn't close tight enough, causing blood to leak backwards across the valve
- Tricuspid stenosis - the valve leaflets are stiff and do not open widely enough, causing a restriction in the forward flow of blood. Your physician may refer to this as an increased pressure gradient
across the valve, found by echocardiogram or cardiac catheterization.
Tricuspid valve disease can be caused by
- Infection, such as rheumatic fever or infective endocarditis
- A dilated right ventricle, causing the annulus (a ring of tough fibrous tissue which is attached to and supports the leaflets of the valve) of the tricuspid valve to enlarge
- Increased pressure through the tricuspid valve (seen with pulmonary hypertension)
- Less common causes include congenital defects, trauma, carcinoid heart disease, tumor, tricuspid valve prolapse, Ebstein's anomaly, systemic lupus, and trauma.
Tricuspid valve disease, if caused by rheumatic fever, is often combined with mitral and/or aortic valve disease.
What are the symptoms?
Tricuspid valve disease may be tolerated for a long time without any symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)
- Easily tired (fatigue)
- A fluttering discomfort in the neck
- With severe disease, heart failure symptoms (right abdominal pain, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs or abdomen, cold skin)