Tricuspid Valve Disease


What Is Tricuspid Valve Disease?

Tricuspid valve disease affects the valve that connects the upper and lower chambers (atrium and ventricle) on the right side of your heart.

Aurora Health Care’s teams are the region’s leaders in diagnosing and treating heart valve diseases. We offer customized treatment using the most advanced, minimally invasive procedures, whether the condition is congenital (a birth defect) or develops later in life.

We treat people with all types of tricuspid valve disease:

  • Tricuspid regurgitation: Regurgitation means that the valve doesn’t close tightly as the heart pumps, allowing blood to leak back into the right atrium.
  • Tricuspid stenosis: When the valve’s flaps become stiff and narrow, blood flow is restricted. As a result, the right atrium becomes enlarged, and less blood flows through the right ventricle to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Rheumatic fever is the most common cause of tricuspid stenosis.
  • Tricuspid atresia: This rare, life-threatening congenital heart defect occurs when the valve does not form correctly during fetal development. The defective valve prevents proper blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle. Doctors correct the defect with surgery. Learn more about congenital heart disease.

Find out more about other types of heart valve disease:


Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Tricuspid valve disease can have several symptoms, including:

  • A heart murmur
  • An irregular or rapid heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath when you’re physically active
  • Weakness
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet and abdomen
  • Cold skin
  • Abdominal pain

Some of these symptoms are not caused by the faulty tricuspid valve. Instead, they may be indicators of the condition that is causing the tricuspid valve problem.

Risk Factors

What Causes Tricuspid Valve Disease?

Some people are born with tricuspid valve disease, and others develop it as a result of conditions that affect the tricuspid valve.

Factors that can lead to tricuspid valve disease include:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary hypertension: This condition is high blood pressure in the lung arteries. We offer specialized treatments in our Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic.
  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle)
  • Heart failure
  • Injury to the chest
  • Infection: Rheumatic fever (a result of untreated strep throat) and infective endocarditis (infection in the heart’s lining) can affect the tricuspid valve.
  • Congenital conditions: Conditions present at birth can cause tricuspid valve failure. These include:
    • Ebstein’s anomaly, where the valve isn’t formed normally
    • Marfan syndrome, an inherited disorder of the connective tissue


Expert Diagnosis of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Tricuspid valve disease may have few symptoms. As a result, doctors often diagnose it when they do tests for other conditions.

When we listen to your heart with a stethoscope, we may notice a swishing sound that indicates a heart murmur, which can be a sign of a valve problem. We’ll also listen for an irregular heartbeat, and ask about your symptoms and family history.

We use several tests to confirm a diagnosis of tricuspid valve disease:

  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray allows the doctor to examine the shapes of your heart and lungs.
  • Radiographic testing: Radiographic testing is a type of imaging study that lets us understand how your heart works in motion. We might order:
  • Stress testing: A stress test, or treadmill test, tells us how your heart functions while you are exercising. If you aren’t able to exercise, we can perform a stress test using medication.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This minimally invasive procedure lets us check the internal structures of your heart and blood vessels. We perform cardiac catheterization in our cath lab.

Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.


Personalized Care for Tricuspid Valve Disease

At Aurora, we customize your tricuspid valve disease treatment to your general health and your needs. Your doctor will explain your treatment options depending on the underlying cause of the valve disease and how it is affecting your life.

Treatments may include:

  • Regular monitoring: For mild tricuspid regurgitation, we will schedule regular follow-up visits to watch your condition for any changes.
  • Medication: Medications can help control the symptoms of other conditions that make tricuspid valve disease more severe.
  • Valve repair or replacement: We use open heart surgery or catheter-based procedures to provide heart valve repair or replacement.
  • Cardiac ablation: This minimally invasive procedure helps regulate arrhythmias, fast or irregular heartbeats, using a thin catheter threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. Read more about cardiac ablation.

Valvular Heart Disease Center

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