Experts urge people over 65 to ask their doctor for an annual stethoscope check

One in eight people over 75 years suffer from Heart Valve Disease

Croí, the Irish heart and stroke charity, is reminding all adults over the age of 65 years to ask their doctor for an annual stethoscope check. The call comes in advance of International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, 12 – 18th September, which aims to improve diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease occurs when valves in the heart are damaged or not working properly, and despite this being a serious condition it is treatable. As we age, symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue and dizziness could be signs of heart valve disease, and sometimes go undetected. Regular checks for a heart murmur using a stethoscope could be the first step in the detection of heart valve disease. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, ask your doctor for a stethoscope check.

Heart valve disease is common, serious, but treatable. Statistics show that one in eight people (13 per cent) over the age of 75 are thought to suffer from moderate to severe heart valve disease, which can lead to premature death if left untreated.

Across the week, Croí will be hosting various events including free stethoscope checks to raise awareness of heart valve disease. In addition, a special webinar will take place on September 15th with expert speakers on heart valve disease. The webinar will discuss the early signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and members of the public will have the opportunity to put their questions to Ms Sarah Early, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at St James’s Hospital in Dublin and a patient who is living with heart valve disease.

Speaking today, Neil Johnson, CEO of Croí, said,

The prevalence of heart valve disease is increasing due to our ageing population… it has been described as ‘the next cardiac epidemic’. To address this, an annual stethoscope check needs to become a matter of routine for everyone over 65 years of age and particularly for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of heart valve disease. As we get older our heart often tries to send us a message and it is so important that we listen to it. Symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness or dizziness can all be signs of heart valve disease and can often go undetected.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you need to ask your doctor for a stethoscope check, and if you are over 65 years old, having an annual stethoscope check could be the first step in the detection of heart valve disease. Our research indicates that most people over 65 years in Ireland are not having regular stethoscope checks when they attend their GP. Even if symptoms are not present, an annual stethoscope for over 65s is a matter of good heart health routine.

Learn more and register now for the Croí webinar on heart valve disease www.croi.ie/valveweek

If you have any queries or concerns in relation to heart valve disease, please don’t hesitate to contact Croí’s free support service, Heartlink West, Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm: Call 091-544310 or email healthteam@croi.ie.