About Tricuspid Valve Stenosis

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Heart Disease, Valvular

Tricuspid valve stenosis is a type of heart defect in which the valve separating the upper and lower chamber in the right side of the heart doesn’t work properly.  It is a type of tricuspid valve disease, of which there are several.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors

In people with tricuspid valve stenosis, the valve that allows blood to move from the right atrium to the right ventricle is narrower than it should be, which reduces the amount of blood that is able to flow through the heart.

  • The condition occurs in about three percent of the population, although fifteen percent of autopsies of people who suffered from rheumatic fever.
  • The incidence of congenital tricuspid valve stenosis is less than one percent, with a larger percentage of those with the condition developing it later in life.
  • Rheumatic fever is closely linked to the development of tricuspid valve stenosis.
  • The causes of congenital defects such as tricuspid valve stenosis are often unknown.
  • While extremely rare, infective carditis can also cause tricuspid valve stenosis.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Symptoms

As with some other heart conditions, symptoms of tricuspid valve stenosis may take years to present themselves.  When they do, they will likely include the following:

  • Heart palpitations or ‘fluttering’
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fluttering feelings in the neck
  • Abdominal pain

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Diagnosis

Diagnosis of tricuspid valve stenosis will likely begin with a physical examination during which the physician hears a heart murmur while using stethoscope.  Following this, a few steps will likely be taken.

  • An X-ray can reveal a swollen or enlarged right atrium.
  • Echocardiograms are often used, employing sound waves to create a vivid image of the heart.  These are detailed enough for the physician to monitor blood flow and problems with the structure of the valve.
  • A CT scan might be employed to deliver detailed views of your heart as well.
  • An MRI could also be used and will create an image of the heart.
  • Stress tests might be utilized to gain an understanding of your condition’s effect on your ability to exercise.

Many of these scans will be unnecessary, since an echocardiogram is usually enough to make a concrete diagnosis.  Others may be needed if it is inconclusive, however.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Treatment

In the majority of cases treatment will not be required.  Many people never show any signs of this condition, and live their entire lives without realizing that they have tricuspid valve stenosis.

  • Treatment could be required if more than one valve in the heart is affected.
  • Treatment may also be needed if the opening between the chambers of the heart is especially small.

If the condition is not congenital and is caused by another condition such as rheumatic fever, the illness that caused the tricuspid valve stenosis must be dealt with prior to correcting the heart trouble.

There are two basic procedures that your doctor may perform to help your tricuspid valve stenosis, depending upon the exact nature and severity of your condition.

  • The less invasive and more preferred treatment is known as a balloon valvuloplasty and involves running a tiny tube with a balloon attached to the tip of it into your arteries and up into the heart.  Once inside the heart the balloon is positioned in the valve and inflated, stretching out the opening permanently.  The balloon and catheter are then removed.  In most cases this procedure will be all that is needed to correct the problem.
  • In more serious cases surgery will be required, specifically a procedure known as valve replacement surgery.  This involves the removal of the heart valve and replacement of it with a new mechanical valve or one made from tissue.
  • If a mechanical valve is used then anticoagulants will need to be taken for the rest of your life.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Prognosis

The prognosis for tricuspid valve stenosis is good, and many born with the condition never realize that they suffer from it.  Even those who begin to experience symptoms will likely have few long term effects from the condition.  Recovery from surgery is also very common, and those who have undergone procedures to correct tricuspid valve stenosis often enjoy long, normal lives.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis Prevention

  • As a congenital birth defect there is little that you can do to prevent tricuspid valve stenosis.
  • The incidence of rheumatic fever in the developed world is very low, but if you contract it then dealing with it as soon as possible is the best way to prevent the development of tricuspid valve stenosis.

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