What is tricuspid valve disease?

Tricuspid valve disease can occur when the heart valve between the right atrium and the right ventricle, which normally has three flaps—or cusps—becomes narrowed. This lessens the amount of blood flowing into the right ventricle and can reduce the efficiency of the heart.

About the tricuspid valve

The tricuspid valve is one of four valves that control the flow and direction of blood in and out of the heart. Blood enters the right atrium (upper heart chamber) and passes through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle (lower pumping chamber) from where it is pumped out through the pulmonary artery in the lungs. In tricuspid stenosis, a type of tricuspid valve disease, the right atrium becomes enlarged, while the right ventricle does not fill completely and remains small.

Types of aortic valve disease include:

  • Tricuspid stenosis: If the valve is narrowed (stenosed), it becomes difficult for a sufficient amount of blood to move through the right heart chambers with each beat.
  • Tricuspid regurgitation: If the valve does not close properly, some blood flowing into the ventricle leaks back into the atrium with each beat. This condition is known as regurgitation or insufficiency. In tricuspid regurgitation, both right chambers enlarge substantially.

In both of the above cases, the heart must work harder to pump an adequate amount of blood.
Tricuspid valve disorders, which are rare, often occur in conjunction with other heart valve problems, particularly with mitral valve disorders.

Individuals with tricuspid valve disease are at risk for heart failure and atrial fibrillation (which increases the risk of blood clot formation). As in other types of valve disease, tricuspid disorders also increase the risk of endocarditis.