Tricuspid Regurgitation – Symptoms, Surgery & More
As many of you know, I had double heart valve replacement due to a very leaky aortic valve that suffered from from calcified aortic leaflets. My problematic valve was a bicuspid aortic valve (that was both stenotic and had regurgitaiton).
I knew about my defective valve since the time I was 5 years old. That said, my condition was considered a congenital heart condition and I had a heart murmur for the first 33 years of my life.
I say “had” because, since my surgery a few years ago, I no longer have a heart murmur or any leaking heart valve symptoms. 🙂
However, as you may or may not know, the valve disease referred to as “regurgitation” can impact each of the other heart valves. Granted, it is more common in certain valves but regurgitation can impact the aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonary valves. Depending on the severity of valve regurgitation, it can ultimately lead to either heart valve repair of heart valve replacement surgery.
About Tricuspid Regurgitation
Tricuspid regurgitation (also known as tricuspid incompetence, tricuspid insufficiency) is leakage of blood backward through the tricuspid valve each time the right ventricle contracts. As the right ventricle contracts to pump blood forward to the lungs, some blood leaks backward into the right atrium, increasing the volume of blood there, resulting in less blood being pumped through the heart and to rest of the body. As a result, the right atrium enlarges, and blood pressure increases in the right atrium. The liver may swell because of this increased pressure. Heart enlargement (dilation) of the right atrium also can result in atrial fibrillation, a rapid, irregular heartbeat. Eventually, the heart disease of tricuspid regurgitation can result in heart failure.
If you are just starting to learn about your heart, I have a human heart diagram posted if you need help understanding the anatomy of the heart. I also wrote a book called The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery that might be helpful for you as well.
Tricuspid Regurgitation – Valvular Causes
The causes of tricuspid regurgitation can be attributed to a number of different causes. Causes of tricuspid regurgitation include heart valve infection (bacterial endocarditis), birth defects of the tricuspid valve (congenital heart disorders), injury, and myxomatous degeneration (a hereditary disorder in which the valve gradually becomes floppy). Each of the above can trigger leaking heart valve symptoms. To learn more, click here.
Tricuspid Regurgitation – Treatment
As for treatment of tricuspid regurgitation, usually mild tricuspid regurgitation requires little or no treatment. Surgery to repair or replace the tricuspid valve is rarely done unless surgery on another heart valve (for example, mitral valve replacement) is also needed. However, this is not always the case. Depending on the severity of the backflow of blood, cardiac surgery may be required.
I hope this helps you better understand tricuspid regurgitation.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.