Problem: Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation

Updated:Oct 4,2016
What's the problem?
Regurgitation diagram

What is 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?

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.

What causes tricuspid regurgitation?

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

Other diseases may also affect the tricuspid regurgitation, most commonly infective endocarditis (valve infection), and less commonly, Marfan syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, injury, carcinoid tumors, and myxomatous degeneration.

An important risk for tricuspid regurgitation is the use of the diet substance called “Fen-Phen” (phentermine and fenfluramine) or dexfenfluramine.

What are the symptoms of tricuspid valve regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation may not have any symptoms or the symptoms be vague, such as weakness and fatigue, which 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 diuretics.

Surgical valve repair or valve replacement usually cures the condition, but 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.

Heart valves 101 quiz
Test your heart valve knowledge

Heart Valve Disease Symptoms

Dr. Robert Bonow describes the symptoms that may alert you to heart valve disease.

This content was last reviewed May 2016.

Heart Valve Regurgitation

If you've been told you have a leaky valve, or regurgitation, here's a simple explanation of what it means and why it matters to your heart health.

Support Network: You're Not Alone

Our heart valve ambassadors are here for you