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Tricuspid Valve Disease

The tricuspid valve has three cusps. Because the cusps are shaped like half moons, the tricuspid valve is referred to as a semilunar valve. The tricuspid valve regulates blood flow between the right atrium and the right ventricle.

There are two main diseases or malfunctions of heart valves: regurgitation (valve does not close tightly) and stenosis (valve does not open fully). Regurgitation and stenosis disrupt the heart cycle because the heart valves fail to open and close properly, resulting in improper blood flow through the heart.

 

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis

  • Overview: Tricuspid valve stenosis is a disease in which the tricuspid valve opening does not open wide enough, inhibiting the ability of the heart to pump blood to the body due to the increased force required to pump blood through the stenotic (stiff) valve.
     
  • Signs and Symptoms: Signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations (an unusual awareness of the heartbeat) and, on occasion, chest pain.
  • Causes: Tricuspid stenosis is most often caused by rheumatic fever (inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection with streptococcus bacteria—such as strep throat or scarlet fever). It usually takes two or more years after the rheumatic episode for the development of the stenotic (thickened) valve. However, most patients do not have symptoms for 15–20 years after an episode of rheumatic fever.
  • Risk Factors: The major risk factor is exposure to streptococcal infection that is not diagnosed.
  • Diagnosis - Screening/Tests: An echocardiogram is a non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart chambers, the heart valves, and major blood vessels located near the heart.
  • Complications: Complications include endocarditis (an infection that affects the lining of the heart's chambers and the heart valves).
  • Treatment: Treatment options include the administration of antibiotic prior to dental procedures and beta-blockers and diuretics if heart failure develops.
  • Prevention: Primary prevention (prevention before the disease develops) is the adequate treatment of strep (streptococcus) throat infections. Secondary prevention (prevention of further disease progression) is the adequate treatment of recurrent episodes of rheumatic fever.

Tricuspid Valve Insufficiency/Regurgitation

  • Overview: Tricuspid valve insufficiency/regurgitation is a disease in which the tricuspid valve does not close completely, causing blood to flow backward instead of forward through the valve. The most common cause of tricuspid valve insufficiency/regurgitation is dilatation (enlargement) of the right ventricle and of the annulus (space or orifice in the heart where the valve sits). On rare occasion, tricuspid valve insufficiency/regurgitation can be secondary to the disease of the valve itself.
     
  • Signs and Symptoms: The primary symptoms include shortness of breath and fatigue.
  • Causes: Tricuspid valve insufficiency/regurgitation is most often caused by hypertension of the pulmonary circulation, trauma, rheumatic fever, carcinoid, tricuspid valve prolapse, and congenital causes.
  • Risk Factors: Risk factors depend on the cause of tricuspid valve disease.
  • Diagnosis - Screening/Tests: An echocardiogram is a non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart chambers, the heart valves, and major blood vessels located near the heart.
  • Complications: Complications include endocarditis (an infection that affects the lining of the heart's chambers and the heart valves).
  • Treatment: If the tricuspid insufficiency/regurgitation becomes severe, surgical valve repair is the treatment of choice in a surgical center that performs a high volume of tricuspid valve repair procedures.
  • Prevention: Treat streptococcal pharyngitis if the tricuspid valve disease is caused by rheumatic fever.

Contact

For more information regarding the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, please call 1-866-662-8467 or request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateNovember 23, 2012

Referrals &
Appointments

To obtain a referral or schedule
an appointment:


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