Tricuspid Valve Disease
(Tricuspid Regurgitation; Tricuspid Stenosis)
Tricuspid valve disease refers to damage to the tricuspid heart valve. This valve is located between the atrium (upper chamber) and the ventricle (lower pumping chamber) of the right side of the heart. The tricuspid valve has 3 cusps, or flaps, that control the direction and flow of blood.
The 2 main types of tricuspid valve disease are:
- Tricuspid stenosis—narrowing of the tricuspid valve
- Tricuspid regurgitation—backflow of blood into the atrium from the ventricle due to improper closing of the tricuspid valve flaps
Anatomy of the Heart
Rheumatic fever is the most common cause of tricuspid valve disease (especially stenosis). Other causes include:
A personal history of rheumatic fever may increase your chance of getting tricuspid valve disease.
In many cases, there are no symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue, especially during physical activity
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal fullness
- Swelling in the legs or abdomen
- Changes in skin color
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may be alerted to tricuspid valve disease if you have a heart murmur.
Images may need to be taken to examine your heart. This can be done with:
Your heart's electrical activity may need to be measured. This can be done with electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG).
Your heart's activity during exercise may be measured. This can be done with a cardiac stress test.
If you have mild tricuspid valve disease, your condition will need to be monitored, but may not need treatment right away. When symptoms become more severe, treatments may include:
Medications may be prescribed to treat specific symptoms associated with tricuspid valve disease. These medications include:
- Diuretics to promote the production of urine
- Vasodilators, which dilate blood vessels
If tricuspid valve disease is causing severe problems, surgery to repair or replace the valve may be required.
Tricuspid valve disease cannot be prevented. But, there are several things you can do to try to avoid some of the complications:
- Treat strep throat infections right away to avoid rheumatic fever, which can cause scarring of the heart valve.
- If your valve problem was caused by rheumatic fever, talk to your doctor about antibiotic treatment to prevent future episodes.
- Most people with a tricuspid valve defect do not need to take antibiotics to prevent infections before dental or medical procedures. But, there are exceptions. Check with your doctor to see if your condition requires you take antibiotics.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Antibiotic prophylaxis for heart patients. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/a/Premedication-or-Antibiotics. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Diseases of the tricuspid valve. Texas Heart Institute website. Available at: http://www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Topics/Cond/vtricus.cfm. Updated August 2014. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Tricuspid valve disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 20, 2014. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.