Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation is a type of heart valve disease wherein the tricuspid valve located in between the right atrium and right ventricle heart chambers does not close completely and in the correct manner. This leads to a reverse flow of blood, with leakage back into the right atrium. In some cases, tricuspid valve regurgitation develops as a congenital disorder present right from birth, while in other instances, it arises owing to other underlying health anomalies.
The human heart is composed of four chambers, where the right atrium and left atrium in the top portion receive blood and the right ventricle, left ventricle in the bottom segment pump blood. Heart valves such as the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, made up of thin, strong flaps called leaflets/cusps with fibrous filaments, are situated within the cardiac tissues, to maintain the proper direction of blood flow in the body. In normal healthy people, the tricuspid valve positioned amidst the two right chambers opens to permit the passage of blood from the right atrium to the right ventricle, following which it shuts promptly to prevent the backward flow of blood. However, in individuals diagnosed with tricuspid valve regurgitation, the valve fails to close tightly, resulting in leakage of blood back into the right atrium in the wrong direction.
When situations of tricuspid valve regurgitation are minor, they do not trigger grave symptoms and hence do not require advanced treatment. However, when the valve malfunctions to a vast extent inducing severe symptoms, then appropriate medical care comprising prescription medications and surgery might be necessary, to rectify the defects in the tricuspid valve and restore normal healthy heart functions in the patient.
Causes Of Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation:
Various factors give rise to tricuspid valve regurgitation, including:
- Congenital heart defects present in children right from birth such as Ebstein anomaly
- Genetic disorders like Marfan syndrome, characterized by decline in connective tissue growth, abnormal external structures of limbs and damaged heart valves
- Rheumatic fever
- Infections in the lining of the heart – infective endocarditis
- Rare tumours such as carcinoid syndrome stemming from the digestive tissues, metastasizing to the lymph nodes, lungs and heart valves
- Injury to the test resulting in trauma, from car accidents or massive direct collisions involving the front of the body
- Radiation therapy given during cancer treatment, which in turn induces malformations in the structure of the tricuspid valve
In mild cases, tricuspid valve regurgitation does not prompt any noticeable signs. It is only identified when the condition becomes serious or while other diagnostic procedures are being performed. The typical indications of tricuspid valve regurgitation comprise:
- Irregular heartbeat i.e. arrhythmia
- Body weakness and fatigue
- Aberrant pulsating sensations in the neck
- Shortness of breath while engaging in physical tasks
- Swelling in the abdomen, legs or veins running along the neck region
Furthermore, if left unattended, tricuspid valve regurgitation triggers severe health complications such as heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
A series of analytical protocols are carried out to detect tricuspid valve regurgitation, since the disorder does not portray any obvious signs in minor cases and sometimes is not detected in children until adulthood. These consist of:
- Imaging scans such as echocardiogram, chest X-ray, cardiac MRI, to view the internal segments of the heart chambers, valves and cardiac tissues
- Assessing the transmission of nerve impulses across the cardiac vessels and valves, by means of electrocardiogram (ECG) test – which measures the electrical activity of the heart
- Exercise stress test entailing walking on treadmill, riding a stationary bicycle, to gauge vital parameters of heart performance - heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, during physical activity
When the instance of tricuspid valve regurgitation is mild and does not prompt any grave symptoms, then no specific treatment is recommended and the patient’s vital parameters are monitored by the doctor in occasional consultations.
If tricuspid valve regurgitation instigates severe signs such as breathing distress and abnormal pace of heartbeat, then the physician prescribes medications to alleviate discomforting indications and may even advise the patient to undergo surgery to mend the damaged tricuspid valve.
The healthcare provider advises the patient to take prescription medications of diuretics to eliminate excess bodily fluids, anti-arrhythmics to regulate aberrant heartbeats and other drugs to treat symptoms of heart failure. Surgical procedures of tricuspid valve repair or tricuspid valve replacement are done in severe cases of valve damage, either as an open-heart surgery or minimally invasive heart surgery.
Furthermore, the medical professional continues to monitor the patient in regular follow-up visits post surgery and advises them to adhere to a heart-healthy diet and engage in a daily low-intensity exercise regimen to uplift cardiac wellness.