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Tricuspid Valve Disease

The normal heart has two upper and two lower chambers. The upper chambers called “right and left atrium” collect blood flowing in from the body and in from the lungs. The lower chambers called “ventricles” collect blood from the atria then pump it forcefully out. The right ventricle pumps out to the lungs while the left ventricle pumps to the aorta.

The heart valves, which keep blood flowing in the right direction, are gates at the chamber openings. Each of these valves have flaps (cusps) that open and close once during each heartbeat. The tricuspid valve has three flaps that, when closed, keeps blood from going back into the heart (right atrium). In tricuspid valve disease, the tricuspid valve may not be closing properly (regurgitation), may be narrowed (stenosis), may be missing (atresia) or may be malformed (Ebstein’s anomaly).

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Causes of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Tricuspid valve disease may be caused by a heart defect present at birth (congenital). However, other conditions, traits or habits may also raise your risk for the disease. These are known as risk factors and include:

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing tricuspid valve disease.

  • Older age
  • Family history/Genetics

Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

Other conditions that contribute to development of tricuspid valve disease:

  • Endocarditis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Certain malignancies (carcinoid syndrome).
  • Autoimmune Disease: A condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma).
  • Trauma from injury (pacemakers, leads, etc.).
  • End-Stage Renal Disease: A condition in which your kidneys have stopped working well and your body retains fluid.

Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Some people with tricuspid valve disease may not experience symptoms for many years. Signs and symptoms of tricuspid valve disease may include:

  • Chest pain, pressure, discomfort or tightness.
  • Lightheadedness/Fainting
  • Fatigue after being active or having less ability to be active.
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the ankles and feet.

Diagnosis of Tricuspid Valve Disease

To diagnose tricuspid valve disease, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms, discuss your and your family's medical history, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may listen to your heart with a stethoscope to determine if you have a heart murmur that may indicate a tricuspid valve condition. Your doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition, and determine the cause and severity of your condition, including:

Treatment of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Treatment for tricuspid valve disease depends on the severity of your condition, whether you're experiencing signs and symptoms, and if your condition is getting worse. If your symptoms are mild or you aren't experiencing symptoms, your doctor may monitor your condition with regular follow-up appointments. Other treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes

All patients with heart valve disease should talk to their doctor about the managed risk of getting infective endocarditis. This infection can greatly damage or destroy the heart valves, and can be fatal. Recommended changes include:

  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection.
  • Take antibiotics before any dental procedures, surgeries, or invasive tests.
  • Take good care of your teeth and gums.
  • Tell your doctor and dentist that you have heart valve disease.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Exercise under the directions of your doctor.
  • If you're overweight, talk to your doctor about weight-loss options.
  • Manage stress.
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.


  • Antiarrhythmic medications will help control your heart’s rhythm.
  • Anticoagulants “blood-thinners” will help treat, prevent, and reduce blood clots.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Diuretics “water pills” will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

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Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000

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