Tricuspid Regurgitation – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is tricuspid regurgitation?
Tricuspid regurgitation is a valvular heart disorder in which tricuspid valve does not close properly. This defect allows the blood to flow backward into the right upper heart chamber (atrium). The tricuspid valve is a heart valve that separates the right lower heart chamber (the right ventricle) from the right upper heart chamber (right atrium). Usually, tricuspid valve opens up enough to allow the blood to flow through and then closes to prevent blood from flowing backward. Tricuspid regurgitation occurs, when this valve does not close properly.
What causes tricuspid regurgitation?
Enlargement of the right ventricle is the most common cause of tricuspid regurgitation. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. Any condition that puts extra strain on this chamber can cause it to enlarge.
The following conditions can enlarge right ventricle:
- Abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs which can occur due to a lung problem, such as COPD, or a clot traveling to the lungs.
- A heart problem, such as poor squeezing of the left side of the heart
- Problem with the opening or closing of another heart valve
Tricuspid regurgitation may also be caused or worsened by infections, such as infection of the tricuspid valve or rheumatic fever.
The following are the less common causes of tricuspid regurgitation:
- Ebstein anomaly (a type of heart defect present at birth).
- Marfan syndrome (a genetic disorder of connective tissue)
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Carcinoid tumors, which release a hormone that damages the valve.
- Radiation therapy.
- Past use of a diet pill called Fen-Phen (phentermine and fenfluramine) or dexfenfluramine. This drug was withdrawn from the market in 1997.
What are the symptoms of tricuspid regurgitation?
Most of the time, tricuspid regurgitation may not cause any symptoms. Sometimes, the following symptoms of heart failure may occur:
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Active pulsing in the neck veins
- Decreased urine output
- Fatigue, tiredness
- General swelling
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
How is tricuspid regurgitation diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam and review the symptoms. The physical exam may reveal liver and spleen swelling.
The doctor may find abnormalities in your chest on palpation (gently pressing with the hand). The doctor may also feel a pulse over your liver.
The doctor may hear the murmur or other abnormal sounds while listening to the heart with a stethoscope. He/she may also find signs of fluid buildup in the abdomen.
The doctor may order some diagnostic tests, such as CT scan or MRI of the chest, echocardiogram (ECG). These tests may reveal enlargement of the right side of the heart.
The doctor may do a Doppler echocardiography or right-sided cardiac catheterization to measure blood pressure inside the heart and lungs.
How is tricuspid regurgitation treated?
Tricuspid regurgitation may not need treatment if there are few or no symptoms. If symptoms are severe, the doctor may recommend hospitalization for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If there is swelling or other symptoms of heart failure, the doctor may treat with diuretics to remove fluids from the body.
The doctor may treat certain conditions, such as high blood pressure or swelling of the right lower heart chamber. This may correct the disorder.
The doctor may recommend surgery for some people with this condition to repair or replace the tricuspid valve. Usually, this surgery is done as part of another procedure.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.