Problem: Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation

Valve Regurgitation: When a Heart Valve Leaks

What's tricuspid valve regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation is leakage of blood backwards through the tricuspid valve each time the right ventricle contracts.

What happens during tricuspid regurgitation?

Regurgitation animation

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 in the atrium. As a result, the right atrium can enlarge, which can change the pressure in the nearby chambers and blood vessels.

Watch a valve regurgitation animation.

What causes tricuspid regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation often results from an enlarged lower heart chamber (right ventricle).

Other diseases also may cause tricuspid regurgitation, most commonly infective endocarditis (valve infection), and less commonly, Marfan syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever (PDF)(link opens in new window), injury, carcinoid tumors, and myxomatous degeneration.

Tricuspid regurgitation also is associated with the use of the diet drug  “Fen-Phen” (fenfluramine and phentermine).

What are the symptoms of tricuspid valve regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation may not have symptoms or the symptoms be vague, such as weakness and fatigue. These symptoms develop because the heart is not pumping enough blood to allow the body to receive the needed oxygen.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Active pulsing in the neck veins
  • Enlarged liver
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and/or feet

Treatment options may include:

Treatment may not be required if the symptoms are not bothersome. Any underlying disorder, such as emphysema or pulmonary stenosis, should be treated when possible and symptoms such as swelling can be managed with medications.

Surgical valve repair or valve replacement usually corrects the condition. Those with untreated, severe tricuspid regurgitation may face a poor prognosis, either from the valve disease itself or because of the complications from the underlying condition causing the valve problem.

Video: Dr. Robert Bonow on Heart Valve Disease

Heart Valve Disease Resources

Find out more about your heart valves and how to manage heart valve disease.