Tricuspid Valve Disease

The tricuspid valve separates the heart’s upper right chamber (atrium) from the lower right chamber (ventricle). The right atrium collects blood that is returning to the heart after depositing oxygen throughout the body. The right ventricle pushes blood out of the heart to the lungs to receive new oxygen. The tricuspid valve keeps the blood moving in the right direction — always from the right atrium to the right ventricle.
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What is Tricuspid Valve Disease?

There are two main types of tricuspid valve disease:
  • Tricuspid valve stenosis
  • Tricuspid valve regurgitation

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis

Stenosis is a condition in which the valve’s leaflets (flaps) become stiff or hard. If the leaflets aren’t flexible, they can’t open completely and the valve opening narrows. The heart must work harder to push blood through the narrower open into the ventricle, and some blood may get left in the atrium. Tricuspid valve stenosis will cause the right atrium to enlarge.

Tricuspid valve stenosis is a serious valve disease that can occur due to:
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Radiation therapy
  • Connective tissue disease (a group of diseases that affect the tissue that connects various structures in the body. Examples of connective tissue: fat, bone and cartilage; Examples of connective tissue disease: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and osteogenesis imperfecta.

Tricuspid valve stenosis can occur in an individual’s own valve and also in a bioprosthetic valve (an artificial heart valve made out of animal tissue, usually from a pig) in patients who have previously had a tricuspid valve replacement.

Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation

Regurgitation or leaking occurs when the tricuspid valve’s leaflets don’t close tightly. When the valve doesn’t close completely, blood moves forward into the right ventricle, but also leaks back into the right atrium. Tricuspid valve regurgitation allows excess blood to build up in the right atrium, which limits the amount of blood that moves into the right ventricle and then on to the lungs to receive oxygen.

There are multiple causes for leaking in the tricuspid valve, including:
  • An enlarged right ventricle
  • Radiation therapy
  • Placement of a pacemaker
  • An infection, such as rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that may develop after strep throat or scarlet fever) or endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart/endocardium)
As the condition worsens and symptoms become more severe, the valve may need to be repaired or replaced.

Tricuspid valve regurgitation can occur in an individual’s own valve, and also in a bioprosthetic ring or valve (an artificial heart valve made out of animal tissue, usually from a pig) in patients who have previously had a tricuspid valve replacement.

Symptoms