This year’s Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week aims to build awareness of symptoms and improve diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease globally.
Share the message:
Listen to Your Heart
If you are over 65, ask your doctor for a stethoscope check at least once a year.
Heart valve disease is common, serious, but treatable.
Follow the campaign using #ListenToYourHeart#heartvalveweek20
Why creating awareness about Heart Valve Disease is so important
Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week is important, not only to raise awareness of the disease but also to make the population more aware of the symptoms so that they can seek the help they need at the right time. It is also important that clinicians provide their patients, especially those who are over the age of 65, with regular stethoscope exams as these are the key to detecting heart valve disease.
One out of eight people over the age of 75 suffers from moderate to severe heart valve disease, which involves damage to one or more of the heart’s valves. People are living longer and older people are crucial contributors to society and the economy. Untreated valve disease is a barrier to active ageing but conversely, early detection and timely treatment will increase longevity and quality of life.
Often heart valve disease patients are diagnosed only when they see a healthcare professional for a regular check-up or for some other issue. The seriousness of heart valve disease, combined with the fact that the symptoms are often difficult to detect or dismissed as a normal part of ageing, can often result in troublesome or dangerous consequences.
What is Heart Valve Disease?
Heart valve disease is a common, serious, but treatable condition which is particularly associated with ageing. It is the name given to any malfunction or abnormality of one or more of the heart’s four valves, affecting the flow of blood through the heart.
What is regurgitation? Regurgitation is when a valve does not fully close and allows blood to leak backwards. It is also commonly referred to as valve insufficiency, or a leaky valve. This condition includes mitral regurgitation and aortic regurgitation.
What is stenosis? Stenosis is when a valve does not fully open to allow enough blood to flow through. This can be due to age-related calcification of the valve. A calcified valve can become very narrow or blocked and therefore limits the amount of blood that flows through. It is also commonly called a sticky, narrowed, or stiff valve.
However, some heart valve disease patients do not show symptoms or have no symptoms for many years, even if their disease is severe, all of which can make diagnosis difficult.
2020 European Heart Valve Disease Survey
Public awareness of heart valve disease remains low. Less than 6% of respondents knew what heart valve disease is.
Few respondents would seek medical advice if they experienced key symptoms of aortic stenosis, suggesting that early detection opportunities could be missed
Importantly, there continues to be inequality in stethoscope use throughout Europe and across genders. As stethoscope checks are a key initial screening method for detection of heart valve disease, this lack of consistency may leave many patients undiagnosed.
“The Survey demonstrates clearly that our older population is a key, yet underestimated, contributor to the effective functioning of our communities, families and economies, so improving the awareness, diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease will benefit us all,” commented Wil Woan, Chair of the Heart Valve Disease Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub. “Our senior people selflessly confined themselves to protect the health of others during COVID-19; now it is time to repay them by ensuring that they receive the treatments that will transform their quality of life and lower their vulnerability to future pandemics and other significant infections.”
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