Tricuspid Valve Disease

What is a Tricuspid Valve Disease?

Tricuspid valve disease is a heart condition that causes the valve located between the right ventricle and right atrium to function improperly.

It usually appears alongside other various heart valve issues.

Different kinds of tricuspid valve disease include:

  • Tricuspid valve stenosis (narrowed tricuspid valve)
  • Tricuspid valve regurgitation (tricuspid valve does not close correctly)
  • Epstein’s anomaly (malformed tricuspid valve that sits lower than it normally does)
  • Tricuspid atresia (tricuspid valve does not form during fetal development)

Rheumatic fever is commonly associated with the development of tricuspid valve disease. Those with a personal history of the condition are at higher risk of experiencing it later in life. Other conditions that have been identified as causes of the disease include endocarditis, congenital heart defects, coronary heart disease, heart attack, trauma to the heart, and congestive heart failure. In rare cases, the presence of tumors may be responsible.

What are the Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Disease?

Depending on the type, patients who have developed a tricuspid valve disease might experience specific symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath when active
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of the abdomen, feet, and ankles
  • Cold skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in skin color
  • Abdominal pain

In severe cases, people can begin to show signs of heart failure that might include chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, water retention, heart palpitations, and swollen legs.

Tricuspid Valve Disease Causes

The dilation of the right ventricle can cause the tricuspid valve to function inefficiently and this, in turn, puts the victim at high risk of tricuspid valve disease.

People with malformed tricuspid valve can suffer from tricuspid valve disease. It happens when the malformed tricuspid valve sits abnormally in the right ventricle, which can cause backward leakage of blood to the right atrium, leading to tricuspid valve disease.

In children, however, the tricuspid valve disease can result from congenital or genetic heart defects. There can also be a connective tissue defect that occurs to children at birth causing tricuspid valve disease.

Car accidents can result in trauma, leading to tricuspid valve disease – this is particularly so when the chest suffers trauma.

A condition can arise where the lining of the heart is hurt by an infection causing tricuspid valve disease. This condition is referred to as infective endocarditis. Carcinoid heart disease can be caused by carcinoid syndrome, growth of a tumor in the in the digestive system or the lungs, which multiplies to the liver, impeding the normal functionality of the tricuspid valve.

How is Tricuspid Valve Disease Treated?

Mild cases of tricuspid valve disease may not require immediate treatment. Rather, a medical professional will monitor the patient at regular intervals and recommend various therapies if the condition becomes more serious. This might include prescription drugs including vasodilators and diuretics, as well as medications to treat other symptoms that are becoming problematic.

As the disease progresses, surgical repair may eventually be needed. Depending on the circumstances, the procedure may involve valve repair or valve replacement.

Tricuspid Valve Disease Prevention

Controlling inconsistent heartbeats through a procedure called cardiac ablation is necessary to prevent the tricuspid valve disease.

As some of the causes of the disease, such as congenital heart defects, can’t be stopped, in some cases, the disease is not preventable. Oftentimes, people may not even know they have the disease until it is too late to prevent – there are few identifiable symptoms. In these situations, it’s usually found when doctors analyse a patient’s history while testing for other diseases, for example through an echocardiogram procedure.

Doctors determine the blood flow through the heart, the tricuspid valve and the structure of the heart. They can also administer tests such as X-ray on the chest, stress tests and cardiac catheterization amongst others to determine the condition of the tricuspid valve and see how far along the diseases it, and whether it can still be prevented.

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Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
September 10, 2017
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