A Message from Wil Woan, Chair of the Heart Valve Disease Patient Council

As patient-led charities, everything we do at the Council is driven by those affected by heart valve disease, and their lived experience empowers our work, strengthens our voice and ensures that patients are influencing valve disease care.

Since International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week 2020, the Valve Council have worked collaboratively as we have combatted the diverse challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has presented us. Through our partnerships, we have delivered our #JustGo, #JustTreat and #StepUp campaigns, and have reached millions around the world, with our work giving a voice to all those affected by heart valve disease and helping support them through the challenges the pandemic has presented.

International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week 2021 is now approaching, and this year is all about listening to your heart. Together, we will focus our messaging on those everyday moments that highlight the symptoms of heart valve disease. We want to raise awareness of the red flags, such as symptoms of breathlessness, dizziness and fatigue, but in doing so situate them in the real life, everyday moments that we can sometimes overlook.

The awareness week is led by the Global Heart Hub; the umbrella group for cardiovascular patient organisations, including; Initiative Herzklappe in Germany, Meine Herzklappe from Austria, Instituto Lado A Lado Pela Vida in Brazil, Alliance du Coeur in France, Cuore Italia in Italy, Heart Valve Voice in the UK, US, Canada and Japan, AEPOVAC in Spain, EcoSerce in Poland, PACO from Mexico, Croí, the heart and stroke charity from Ireland, Mended Hearts in the US, The Israeli Heart Association, and hearts4heart in Australia.

Leaving heart valve disease undiagnosed and untreated can lead to heart failure and death. It means increased stress on our health care systems with more hospital admissions for major heart issues that could have been avoided. Yet, early diagnosis and treatment can relieve this pressure and, of course, lengthen life and allow those with valve disease to play an active role within their communities; we call this the Power of Positive Ageing.

Our first and most important step is to raise the profile and awareness of heart valve disease. The activity planned during the week will help us achieve that. It will also lead more people onto the correct treatment pathways for the best possible outcomes. Over the coming weeks, I will be talking about the specific activity across our partner charities and I can’t wait for September 13th.

Wil Woan

Chair of the Heart Valve Disease Patient Council