The tricuspid and pulmonary valves are two of the four one-way valves that control blood flow through the heart’s four chambers. Blood enters the right side of the heart on its return from the rest of the body. It flows from the upper chamber, the right atrium, through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle below. The blood then leaves the right ventricle through the pulmonary valve and goes into the pulmonary artery, which carries the blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Disorders of these two valves may be symptomless, or they may cause fatigue, faintness or shortness of breath.
Stenosis- When the Valve Is Too Narrow
Disorders of these valves are not as common as disorders of the heart’s other two valves, the mitral valve and the aortic valve. However, the disorders are similar. Either of the two valves can have problems that result in narrowing, or stenosis, of the valve in question. Stenosis may be due to age or to calcium deposits in the valves.
Sometimes the narrow opening can be widened by means of heart valve valvuloplasty. Under local anesthesia, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into an artery and moved through the artery to the heart by means of a guide wire. The balloon is inflated in the valve to widen the opening. If valvuloplasty fails to resolve the problem, surgery may be necessary to replace the narrowed valve.
Regurgitation- When the Valve Doesn’t Close Properly
Sometimes these valves develop a disorder in which they don’t close properly, resulting in regurgitation of the blood back into the right ventricle. When this causes symptoms, surgery may be necessary to replace the damaged valve.
What Causes Valve Problems?
Like disorders of the mitral valve and aortic valve, these disorders can be caused by rheumatic fever, a complication of a common streptococcal infection, by congenital defects or by endocarditis.
Guard Against Endocarditis
People with valve disease are more susceptible to bacterial endocarditis, a blood-born infection of the heart’s lining. Your doctor may recommend that you get antibiotic treatment before undergoing routine dental procedures or surgery, or after a minor injury.
What Can You Do?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a disorder of the heart valves, discuss your options with your cardiologist. Treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are and whether the condition is getting gradually worse or remaining the same.