Global Coalition on Aging and Global Heart Hub Host Cross-Sector Roundtable to Tackle Heart Valve Disease in Aging Societies

Silent epidemic of heart valve disease is critical barrier to healthy aging in the 21st century.

New York, New York – March 23, 2023 – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Global Heart Hub (GHH) have released a global position paper “Heart Valve Disease: Harnessing Innovation to Save Lives, Mitigate Costs, and Advance the Healthy Aging Agenda”. The report builds upon on a December 2022 GCOA-GHH roundtable of cross-sector experts and examines how behavior and policy change can best address heart valve disease in our 21st century.

“The impacts of heart valve disease are all the more tragic because they are largely avoidable,” said Michael Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging. “The prevalence and incidence is growing apace with the aging of our society. It’s past time for societies and health systems to unleash the medical innovations that are now available and those still to come in future. In doing so, we will help achieve a healthier aging and align to economic benefits for all.”

As population aging accelerates, heart valve disease is growing as both a life-threatening health challenge and a costly drain on health systems and public budgets. In the United States alone, prevalence has grown from just 5 million in 2000 to as many as 11.6 million in 2018, costing $23.5 billion in direct health expenditures each year; in Europe, one in eight people over 75 suffers from moderate to severe heart valve disease, and the number of patients with heart valve disease is expected to double by 2040. Yet the disease remains widely under-recognized due, at least in part, to ageist biases. For example, early symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue, and dizziness risk being dismissed as all too common among older adults, when they can really be signs of heart valve disease. Despite increasing innovation for intervention, care models, and technologies, patients are not receiving the treatment they need, and heart valve disease in this sense is a near perfect illustration of how ageism adversely shapes our health care. This creates a clear opportunity to better utilize the tools already available to improve diagnosis and treatment, streamline care pathways, and, ultimately, save lives.

“In the clinic, I see that people with heart valve disease are getting sicker, younger,” said Ariane Macedo, MD, MHS, PhD, Clinical Cardiologist, Santa Casa de São Paulo; and Director, Galen Academy. “We must implement solutions to engage people faster, detect and diagnose the disease earlier, and make patients aware of all available treatments.”

“Heart valve disease can be detected by a simple stethoscope examination and early diagnosis and treatment is central to positive aging,” said Neil Johnson, Executive Director, Global Heart Hub; Chief Executive, Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac & Stroke Foundation & National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health. “Despite international best practice guidelines, significant improvements and rapid technological advances in treatment, there are huge variations, inequities, and deficits in the treatment care pathway from diagnosis to treatment across the world. Now is the time to act against heart valve disease. A sense of urgency can speed proven, evidence-based care that mitigates long-term costs, improves outcomes, and better serves patients and their families.”

In light of this opportunity, and aligned with the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing, the experts at the roundtable called on policymakers; health system leaders; patients, caregivers, and their advocates; healthcare providers; and other stakeholders to prioritize and strengthen responses to heart valve disease. Together, a multi-sector coalition of leaders and organizations can combat ageist stereotypes that constrain care, improve early detection and diagnosis, and ensure increased and widespread access to life-saving interventions.

The roundtable of multi-disciplinary experts found that greater urgency is needed to ensure that patients and families, health systems, and societies reap the full benefits of recent life-saving innovations. This will happen only if:

  • There is greater awareness globally and across stakeholder disciplines;
  • Health systems respond with equitable access, reimbursement, and encouragement for the use of innovations; and
  • Heart valve disease is recognized globally as a central element of the Decade of Healthy Aging.

“We need to transform the relationship between people with heart valve disease and their care teams,” said Susan Strong, Founding President, Director of Patient Engagement, Heart Valve Voice US and Heart Valve Disease Patient. “This should be a true partnership, empowering people to understand the disease, their treatment options, and long-term care plans.”

About the Global Coalition on Aging

The Global Coalition on Aging aims to reshape how global leaders approach and prepare for the 21st century’s profound shift in population aging. GCOA uniquely brings together global corporations across industry sectors with common strategic interests in aging populations, a comprehensive and systemic understanding of aging, and an optimistic view of its impact. Through research, public policy analysis, advocacy, and strategic communications, GCOA is advancing innovative solutions and working to ensure global aging is a path for fiscally sustainable economic growth, social value creation and wealth enhancement.

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About the Global Heart Hub

The Global Heart Hub is the first global non-profit organisation established to provide a voice for those living with or affected by cardiovascular disease. We are an alliance of heart patient organisations, aiming to create a unified global voice for those living with or affected by heart disease.

Our aim is to unite patient groups from around the world under the umbrella of the Global Heart Hub. Our combined mission is to raise awareness of heart disease and the challenges it presents in everyday life. The Global Heart Hub is a platform for heart patient organisations to share their views, learn from each other’s best practice, unite on common advocacy goals, and share resources. We aim to increase awareness and understanding of the many heart conditions that exist, improve patient outcomes, enhance quality of life, and optimise longevity and healthy aging.

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