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What is Tricuspid Regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation (TR) is a condition in which the valve between the two right heart chambers does not close properly. As a result, blood leaks backward into the right atrium of the heart. This condition may be congenital or it may develop from other health conditions.

Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation

Mild tricuspid valve regurgitation may not cause any obvious symptoms or need any treatment. Patients with severe cases however may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in your abdomen, legs or veins in your neck
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Pulsing in the neck
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Pulmonary hypertension

How is Tricuspid Regurgitation Diagnosed?

Tricuspid valve regurgitation can be diagnosed with a variety of tests including:

  • Echocardiogram. These are used to provide a visualization of the heart to locate abnormalities in structure or function, in this case, with the tricuspid valve.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG uses electrodes on the chest to record the electrical activity of your heart. It can determine if your heart is receiving enough oxygen or beating at an abnormal rhythm.
  • Chest X-ray. This checks for enlargement of the heart ventricles which can be a sign of tricuspid regurgitation.
  • Cardiac CT or PET scan. One of these may be performed to determine the cause of TR or the best method of treatment.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This may be required to directly measure pressures in the heart or to rule out blockages in the heart arteries which may lead to worsening heart function or valve function.

How is Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation Treated?

Tricuspid regurgitation is treated based on the severity of the condition. For some patients, symptoms may be well-managed with medications such as diuretics, although these medicines will not treat the underlying condition. For others whose TR and associated symptoms are more severe, surgical treatment may be needed to repair or replace the damaged valve.

CIS physicians are currently part of evaluating new therapies which are currently in research trials to evaluate the effectiveness of other TR treatments for high-risk patients. These include protocols evaluating repair of the tricuspid valve using trans-catheter tricuspid repair, as opposed to the traditional open surgical approach.

If you suffer from tricuspid regurgitation, it is important that you understand both the severity of your condition and your treatment options. The cardiologists at Cardiovascular Institute of the South can help you better understand the nature of your condition and which therapies may be best for you.

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