Tricuspid stenosis, usually caused by rheumatic fever or a congenital heart defect, is a narrowing of the tricuspid valve in the heart. Over time, this narrowing causes the right atrium to become less effective at pumping blood through the tricuspid valve. Symptoms can include fatigue and irregular heart rhythms. Treatment is based on the severity of the stenosis and the patient's general health.
Heart valves are like doors that open and close. The valves open to allow blood to flow into the next chamber of the heart or into one of the arteries, and then they shut to keep blood from flowing backwards.
The tricuspid valve is on the right side of the heart. It separates the right atrium and the right ventricle. Normally, the tricuspid valve opens when the right atrium contracts. This allows blood to flow down into the right ventricle. The tricuspid valve is closed when the right ventricle contracts, allowing blood to flow out to the lungs.
Tricuspid stenosis is a rare condition in which the tricuspid valve is narrowed. This causes the heart (right atrium) to pump harder to get blood through the tricuspid valve and into the right ventricle. Over time, the right atrium becomes enlarged due to the extra workload. As the right atrium thickens, it becomes less effective at pumping blood through the tricuspid valve, causing blood to back up.
The most common cause of tricuspid stenosis is rheumatic fever. Tricuspid stenosis can also be caused by a congenital defect (a condition a person is born with).
The symptoms of tricuspid stenosis depend on how severely and quickly the condition develops. Most often, tricuspid stenosis is mild, and symptoms develop slowly. As symptoms may not appear for many years, some people are completely unaware that they have tricuspid stenosis.
If symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Heart palpitations
- Heart arrhythmias
- Heart failure.