International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week – Croí to Host “Listen to Your Heart” Webinar

“It’s been described as the next cardiac epidemic…”

With One in Eight Over 75 Years Suffering from Heart Valve Disease, People Urged to Have an Annual Stethoscope Check

See croi.ie/valveweek for information on heart valve disease and to register for the upcoming webinar.

Croí, the Irish heart and stroke charity, is calling on all adults over the age of 65 years to ask their doctor for an annual stethoscope check to ensure early detection and timely treatment of heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease – where valves in the heart are damaged or not working properly – is common, serious, but treatable. Regular checks for a heart murmur using a stethoscope are a vital tool in diagnosing the disease.

The call comes ahead of International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week (September 13-19), an initiative of the Global Heart Hub, an international alliance of heart patient organisations from around the world, and which is led in Ireland by Croí.

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.

Marking the week, Croí is to host a webinar on heart valve disease for members of the public on Thursday, September 16 from 7-8pm.

The “Listen to Your Heart” webinar will feature contributions from interventional cardiologist, Dr Samer Arnous, and a person living with heart valve disease. The webinar will highlight the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and how it is detected and treated. Members of the public will have the opportunity to put their questions to Dr Arnous. People interested in registering for the webinar can do so at www.croi.ie/valveweek.

Needs to Change

For Neil Johnson, CEO of Croí, an annual stethoscope check needs to become a matter of routine for everyone over 65 years:
“As more and more of us live longer, heart valve disease is increasingly an issue that we may need to face. Indeed, it’s been described as the next cardiac epidemic. Sometimes we may put down to old age not being able to do certain things as well as we used to. However, the symptoms of heart valve disease can be masked by the natural signs of ageing. Too often, it goes unnoticed and undiagnosed as we don’t realise that there may be something more troubling going on.

“As we age, especially from 65 years onwards, if you are finding that small everyday tasks like going up the stairs, mowing the grass, or catching a bus, are leaving you feeling breathless or dizzy, you may need to get checked out by your GP. Indeed, as symptoms are not always present, as a matter of good heart health routine, I would encourage anyone over 65 years to have an annual stethoscope check. Unfortunately, we know from research that most people over 65 years in Ireland are not having regular stethoscope checks when they attend their GP. That needs to change. When it comes to heart valve disease, early detection and timely treatment is vital not only in living a longer life, but a life which you can enjoy to the full.”

Heart Valve Disease – Your Questions Answered

  1. What is heart valve disease? There are four valves in the heart – the pulmonary valve, the tricuspid valve, the mitral valve and the aortic valve – and these valves regulate blood flow. Heart valve disease occurs when these valves become damaged, narrowed or stiffened, effecting blood flow in the heart.
  2. How serious is it? Heart valve disease can cause heart rhythm problems, heart failure, blood clots, stroke and even death. Up to half of symptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis – where the aortic valve is damaged or stiffened – die within two years of developing symptoms if not treated.1, 2
  3. What causes it? There are different reasons as to why heart valve disease might arise. Some people are born with a heart abnormality or it may be due to ageing. It can be the result of a previous infection, such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis. It can also arise due to coronary heart disease or a heart attack, or due to cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.
  4. How common is it? 13% of people over the age of 75 are thought to be living with heart valve disease3, and, based on studies in other populations, that number is estimated to double by 2040 and triple by 20604 due to the ageing population.
  5. What are the symptoms? Symptoms can include chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, fainting, swelling of the ankles and feet, fatigue and reduced physical activity. However, some people with heart valve disease will experience no symptoms for many years.
  6. How do you check for it? Everyone over the age of 65 years should have their heart listened to with a stethoscope at least once a year. Anyone with suspected heart valve disease should be referred for an echocardiogram to confirm the diagnosis.
  7. How is it treated? Lifestyle changes and medicines are often prescribed to treat symptoms. However, people may need to have a heart procedure to repair or replace the valve.

For more information on International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, visit www.croi.ie/valveweek. To keep up-to-date on developments for Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week in Ireland, follow Croí on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @croiheartstroke, or search for the hashtags #ListenToYourHeart #ValveWeek21.

World Heart Month Events

September is World Heart Month! To mark this, Croí has a wide range of virtual health events coming up this month, with a panel of expert speakers to answer all your questions.

Click the calendar below to see our upcoming events and then click the buttons below the calendar to register for the events that you wish to attend!

Zoom Training with Bridget!

Date: Every Wednesday

Time: 12pm

Risk Factors for Heart Attack and Stroke

Date: Thursday, September 23rd

Time: 11am

Healthy Eating as we Age

Date: Thursday, September 30th

Time: 11am

World Heart Day Webinar: Heart to Heart with the Croí Health Team

Date: Thursday, September 30th

Time: 7-8pm

Listen to your Heart – Croí Webinar on Heart Valve Disease

Join Croí for a free Heart Valve Disease webinar on Thursday, September 16th from 7-8pm.

As we get older, the valves in our heart can become diseased or damaged. Heart valve disease is common, serious, but treatable. Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week is taking place from September 13th-19th, and Croí want to raise awareness about the common symptoms of heart valve disease and encourage the public to listen to their heart!

Register for our special Heart Valve Disease webinar here!

The “Listen to Your Heart” webinar will feature contributions from interventional cardiologist, Dr Samer Arnous, and James Penny, who is living with heart valve disease. MC on the evening will be Lia Hynes, Journalist with the Irish Independent, author and podcast host. The webinar will highlight the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and how it is detected and treated. Members of the public will have the opportunity to put their questions to Dr Arnous.

  • When: Thursday, September 16th, 2021
  • Time: 7-8pm
  • Location: Online over Zoom
  • Price: FREE

Living well with Cardiovascular Disease: Emotional Recovery

Have you, or a loved one, recently been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or are recovering from a cardiac event? Join Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, and leading experts for a public webinar on the emotional recovery post cardiac event or diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. The free webinar takes place online using Zoom on Thursday, August 26th, from 7-8pm.

Register now and submit your questions for the experts at www.croi.ie/webinar, or call Croí on 091-544310. Don’t miss this special event – Croí want to help you to regain your confidence and get back to living your life again.

Living with cardiovascular disease can be very difficult. At times, you may feel unsure of what to expect or limited by tiredness and pain, and this may cause feelings like sadness and hopelessness. The interactive panel discussion will address your priorities and concerns. Experts on the night include Noelle O’Keeffe, Senior Counselling Psychologist and Professional Coach, Tallaght University Ireland; and Dr. Lisa Hynes, Health Psychologist and Head of Health Programmes, Croí.

“It is normal to feel down or depressed after a cardiac event like a heart attack, a heart surgery or procedure, or a new diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. Many people with CVD will experience psychological distress, particularly depression. With support and treatment, it is possible to recover from depression and take care of your heart health,” says Dr. Lisa Hynes.

Register now at www.croi.ie/webinar, or call Croí on 091-544310.

Minding your Heart Health

Join Croí for a special heart health webinar for the Erris Community!

Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, is delighted to announce a special online event for the Erris community in North Mayo focussing on “Minding your Heart Health”.

Join Croí and leading experts including Prof. Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist, for this free webinar, supported by Vermilion Energy, online using Zoom on Thursday, August 12th, from 7–8pm.

Register here and submit your questions for the experts, or call Croí on 091-544310. Don’t miss this special event.

Speakers on the night include:

  • Prof. Jim Crowley – Consultant Cardiologist
  • Ailish Houlihan – Self-Management Support Co-ordinator for Long-term Health Conditions with Community Healthcare West
  • Zoe McCrudden – Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist

The expert speakers will answer your questions and address your heart health priorities and concerns.

“We are delighted to offer this special event to the Erris Community through our Third Age Mayo programme. We want to put a spotlight on heart health, especially for people over the age of 55 years old. Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are more common as we get older, but if detected early, many heart conditions such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat) can be treated so that people can have a longer and better quality of life,” says Dr Lisa Hynes, Croí’s Head of Health Programmes.

Supported by: 

Ask the Experts at Free Croí Webinar

Past events

Fingers on the Pulse for Stroke Awareness, October 28, 2021

On Thursday, Oct 28th, Croí hosted a special webinar to mark World Stroke Day. The webinar focused on risk factors stroke. Our expert panel for the evening included: Prof Rónán Collins, Geriatrician & Stroke Physician, Clinical Lead Irish – National Stroke Programme; Prof Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist; Trish Galvin, ANP Stroke Care; Declan Fahy, Stroke Survivor; Edward Cherry, Living with Atrial Fibrillation.

This event was supported by Johnson & Johnson. To learn more about Atrial Fibrillation, visit getsmartaboutafib.com.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Stroke, September 30, 2021

On Thursday, Sept 30th, the Croí Health Team hosted a special webinar to mark World Heart Day. The webinar focused on risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Our expert panel for the evening included: Dr. Lisa Hynes, Health Psychologist and Croí’s Head of Health Programmes; Aisling Harris, Croí’s Cardiac and Weight Management Dietitian; Zoe McCrudden, Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist.

Heart Valve Disease, September 16, 2021

The Listen to Your Heart webinar (Sept 16, 2021) featured contributions from interventional cardiologist, Dr Samer Arnous, and James Penny, who is living with heart valve disease. MC on the evening was Lia Hynes, Journalist with the Irish Independent, author and podcast host. The webinar highlighted the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and how it is detected and treated.

Minding Your Heart Health, August 12th, 2021

Croí’s Living with Cardiovascular Disease: Emotional Recovery webinar took place on Thursday, August 27th and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Noelle O’Keeffe, Senior Counselling Psychologist and Professional Coach; Dr. Lisa Hynes, Health Psychologist and Head of Health Programmes, Croí; Maeve Frawley, Heartlink West Nurse, Croí and Jonathan Walsh, Living with heart disease.

Minding Your Heart Health, August 12th, 2021

On Thursday, August 12th, Croí hosted a special Minding Your Heart Health webinar for the community of Erris, Co. Mayo. We were delighted to be joined by three expert panelists: Prof. Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist; Ailish Houlihan, Self-Management Support Co-ordinator for Long-term Health Conditions with Community Healthcare West; and Zoe McCrudden, Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist.

Living with Atrial Fibrillation, June 24th, 2021

Croí’s Living with Atrial Fibrillation webinar took place on June 24, 2021 and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Paul Nolan, Chief II Cardiac Physiologist at Galway University Hospital; Dr. Jonathan Lyne, Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist at Blackrock Clinic; and Eileen Joyce, Psychotherapist, who was diagnosed with AFib last year and will share her experience from a patient’s perspective.

Managing your High Blood Pressure, May 20th, 2021

Croí’s Managing your High Blood Pressure webinar took place on May 20, 2021 and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Prof. Bill McEvoy, Consultant Cardiologist, University Hospital Galway; Dr. Barry McDonnell, Cardiovascular Physiologist, Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Dr. Gerry Molloy, Health Psychologist, NUI Galway.

Living well with cardiovascular disease, April 29th 2021

Croí’s Living well with cardiovascular disease webinar took place on April 29, 2021 and featured an expert panel of speakers, including: Prof. Jim Crowley, Consultant Cardiologist; Dr. Cathy McHugh, Consultant Endocrinologist; Aisling Harris, Croí’s Cardiac & Weight Management Dietitian.

The MySláinte programme is funded by the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019, under Grant Agreement Number 121 to support the delivery of services which focus on prevention, community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings.

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Secondary prevention of heart attack and stroke in Europe: consensus report

CVD is Europe’s biggest killer and a leading cause of unplanned hospitalisations, with millions suffering a heart attack or stroke every year. Less well known is that many of these are repeat events, happening among those already known to be at high risk. It is well proven that many such events are preventable with the right package of specialised acute care, structured rehabilitation and long term management.

However, a new report has revealed the scale of systemic gaps and inequalities in CVD prevention and care for these high needs groups. This is driving significant healthcare costs and many avoidable hospital admissions, yet heart attack and stroke appear to be largely deprioritised at policy level, with few countries maintaining formal plans or strategies to tackle entrenched systemic failures and improve long-term patient outcomes. The report, ‘Secondary prevention of heart attack and stroke in Europe’, was developed by The Health Policy Partnership, with input from an Advisory Panel of leading European experts in CVD prevention, including patient representation from Croí. The pan-European summary report is accompanied by 11 country profiles exploring the national situation in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK.

 

Read the report now.

Global Alliance on Heart Failure & Healthy Aging Launches Best Practices Report on Heart Failure Detection, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care

The report highlights the importance of better detection and earlier diagnosis, a life-course and multidisciplinary management approach to heart failure (HF), and care-delivery models that are suited to older adults.

Today, the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging, convened by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), is launching the report “Tackling Heart Failure As We Age: Best Practices in Heart Failure Detection, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care.” The paper demonstrates that heart failure is not a normal part of the aging process but in fact can be more effectively detected and diagnosed to ensure better treatment and management of HF. By offering a clear set of success factors to improve prevention and care for heart failure and highlighting case studies from the United States and Europe, the report aims to reduce the ageism associated with HF and therefore improve the lives of those with and at risk of HF.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, progress in heart failure care was stalled. Survival after a diagnosis of heart failure has only modestly improved in the 21st century and lags behind other serious conditions” said Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO of GCOA. “It’s time to rethink the way our health systems detect, diagnose, treat and care for people with heart failure. A place to start with this re-thinking is how ageism adversely shapes how we approach older people with symptoms that results in delayed or non-diagnosis too often until it’s too late.”

More people die annually from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. As populations age, urbanization spreads, and the control of infectious and childhood diseases improves, cardiovascular disease (CVD) prominence rises alongside things like high-fat diets, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles. The increase in CVD deaths during the current COVID-19 pandemic, because of the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or because of the lack of or hesitation to seeking medical care, points to questions about optimal treatment and care.

The report underlines the inadequacies of today’s health systems to deal with heart failure as the population of older adults keeps growing. It identifies four best practice areas to help improve HF diagnosis and care, and therefore the lives of patients living with HF and overall health system costs.

  • Early heart failure detection and diagnosis efforts must be enhanced.
  • Patient must be empowered through a life-course approach to prevention, detection, and management of heart failure.
  • Multidisciplinary care teams led by clinicians with specialized training in cardiology can meet the varied and changing needs of people with heart failure and their families and can help to ensure seamless transitions and closely coordinated treatment efforts.
  • Health systems should embrace innovative care-delivery models suited to older patients.

As heart failure affects at least 26 million people around the world, it is notably one of the few cardiovascular conditions that is increasing in prevalence—the total cost of heart failure is predicted to increase 127% by 2030. Lending urgency to the challenge, the World Heart Federation’s heart failure roadmap estimates that there are 11.7 million cases of undiagnosed heart failure globally.

“Mortality linked to heart failure remains high, with 45-60% of people dying within the five years following a first admission to the hospital. This results in increased costs for healthcare systems, and most importantly in lower quality of life for patients and huge emotional burden for families” highlights Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO, World Heart Federation and member of the Alliance’s Governing Board.

As the global population over 60 is predicted to double by mid-century, reaching 2 billion, it is more urgent than ever for health systems to rethink their response to heart failure.

To learn more about these key areas for action, you can access the report by clicking here.

To learn more about GCOA’s work to highlight innovative approaches to heart failure diagnosis and care as we age, check GCOA’s cross-sectoral session on heart failure, data, digital solutions and patient empowerment that took place during the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2020. The session was part of the first-ever “information and communication technologies and older persons” track at WSIS.

Global Coalition on Aging Launches Cross-Sector Global Alliance

Croí is a partner of GCOA

Global Coalition On Aging Launches Cross-Sector Global Alliance To Promote Greater Attention To And Action On Heart Failure As A Path To Healthier Aging And Health System Cost Savings

Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging brings together experts across the cardiovascular, aging, economics, policy, and communications fields to slow the impact of heart failure as we age through earlier diagnosis and treatment, better care, and awareness

New York – 14 November 2019 – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) is launching the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging (the Alliance), recognizing that while heart failure does increase in prevalence with age, it is not a normal part of aging. More than 30 organizations, including advocacy groups, global businesses, and care providers, have united to better quantify the full scope and scale of heart failure risk as the global population over 60 will reach 2 billion by mid-century.

The creation of the Alliance follows 18 months of roundtables, research, and analysis from global leaders across sectors and areas of expertise. This work has led to the realization that heart failure is too often misunderstood by patients, caregivers, policy makers, payers, the general public, and healthcare professionals themselves, leading to a collaborative commitment to promote better practice and awareness of heart failure diagnosis, treatment, and care.

“The increasing global prevalence of heart failure, linked in large part to demographic aging, underscores the urgency of raising its visibility as a global health priority and of addressing it in new and innovative ways,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “Early, common and prevailing symptoms of heart failure, like fatigue or shortness of breath, for example, are too often dismissed as simply a normal part of getting older. This complacency unfortunately perpetuates a culture of ageism in many forms—self-inflicted, ingrained in the healthcare system, among patients and family members, and across society.”

The Alliance was created to shine a light on this connection between heart failure and aging and to spur collaborative action across sectors and areas of expertise. To that end, the Alliance Partners are putting forth a Consensus Statement calling on policy makers, healthcare professionals, patient advocates, NGOs, and others interested in addressing the needs of the growing global aging population to take action to educate, raise awareness, and boost research on heart failure and healthier and more active aging.

We know that 26 million people worldwide are affected by heart failure—more than the population of Australia. Over 80% of people living with heart failure in Europe and in the United States are over 65, and heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization in older adults as well as the leading cause of unplanned hospital readmissions. In the United States, the economic consequence is expected to be a 127% increase in costs to health systems between 2014 and 2030.

The Alliance has already been focused on a number of initiatives at the intersection of aging and heart failure, conducting research and writing reports on clinical best practices across the global heart failure landscape and on the impact on hospitals and health systems when diagnosis is missed or delayed until an acute care situation.

“The economic implications of heart failure for hospital systems, public and private payers, and therefore society at large are huge, especially when you consider the cases that are misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late,” said Nick Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, a research partner of the Alliance. “Many diseases and conditions that are often associated with aging could be avoided with earlier detection that comes from a better understanding of symptoms.  But in the case of heart failure, we still need clarity of what is at stake given this connection to aging.”

The Alliance structure consists of (1) the Partners representing the global, cross-sector, and cross-discipline nature of the initiative; (2) the Secretariat housed within GCOA to execute upon Alliance strategies; and (3) the Governing Committee, which will work closely with the Secretariat to guide the Alliance agenda, serve as strategic advisors, lend expertise, and enhance the credibility and positioning of heart failure as we age with policy makers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, patients and families.

Inaugural Governing Committee members include: Holly S. Andersen, MD, FACC, Attending Cardiologist, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of Education & Outreach, The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center; Michele Bolles, National Vice President of Quality and Health IT, American Heart Association; Salvatore di Somma, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Director of Emergency Medicine, Chairman of Postgraduate School of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medical-Surgery Sciences and Translational Medicine, University La Sapienza Rome, Sant’Andrea Hospital; President, GREAT Network Italy; Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO, World Heart Federation; Daniel E. Forman, MD, FAHA, FACC, Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Chair, Section of Geriatric Cardiology, Divisions of Geriatrics and Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Director of Emerging Therapeutics, Aging Institute, University of Pittsburgh; Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and GeroFit, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Physician Scientist, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Neil Johnson, Non-Executive Director/Founding Member, Global Heart Hub; Chief Executive, Croí—West of Ireland Cardiac & Stroke Foundation; Sue Koob, CEO, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association; and Marc Wortmann, former Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International.

“Eighty-six percent of our members care for patients with heart failure,” said Koob, an Alliance Governing Committee member. “They play a key role in the overall prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and are critical in establishing strong relationships between patients and hospitals. PCNA is proud to drive greater awareness of and global action on heart failure as part of the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging.”

In addition to the 2019 Alliance projects, the Alliance has a robust research, communications, and advocacy agenda for 2020, including engagement in the World Health Organization’s Decade of Healthy Ageing, to be launched at the World Health Assembly in May 2020, which will mark a major milestone in elevating heart failure on the global policy agenda.

“Heart failure is currently not prioritized because it is not well understood by those most affected, including patients themselves,” said Hodin. “But, one-in-five of us can expect to live with heart failure at some point in our lives. Through the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging, we are calling on all stakeholders to make healthy aging a reality for those living with or at risk of heart failure.”

ABOUT THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE ON HEART FAILURE & HEALTHY AGING

The Global Alliance on Heart Failure & Healthy Aging is the result of a series of successive roundtables convened by the Global Coalition on Aging in New York, Brussels, and Chicago throughout 2018. The meetings collectively brought together more than 70 experts from across sectors, disciplines and geographies who identified the connection between heart failure and aging as a new opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life, better meet patient and caregiver needs, and better manage health systems costs related to heart failure by diagnosing patients as early as possible and ensuring their access to the best available treatments. The Alliance is made possible through funding and support from GCOA members Novartis and Amgen.

 

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 to health, productivity and economic growth. For more information, visit www.globalcoalitiononaging.com.

Heart Valve Disease – a brief introduction

Written by Croí’s Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist, Patricia Hall

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for all types of disease that affect the heart and blood vessels. Most commonly it refers to coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke. However, there are other heart conditions that can affect your heart’s valves, muscle or rhythm.

Heart valve disease is when one or more of the valves in your heart become diseased or damaged, preventing them from opening or closing properly. You have 4 valves in your heart (2 on the right, 2 on the left) that keep blood flowing in the right direction.

These valves can be affected in 2 ways:

  1. the valve area can become narrowed, not opening fully and causing an obstruction or blockage to the flow of blood. This is called valve stenosis; or
  2. the valve may not close properly allowing blood to flow backwards in the wrong direction. This is called valve regurgitation or incompetence.

Common causes of heart valve disease include congenital heart birth defects, infections and degeneration over time. Due to wear and tear or high blood pressure, the prevalence increases with ageing.

You may not experience any symptoms of heart valve disease for many years or they may seem vague and non-specific.

Common symptoms can include:

  • shortness of breath particularly on exertion;
  • fatigue or feeling excessively tired;
  • swelling of the ankles;
  • chest pain or tightness;
  • dizziness or fainting.

Sometimes valve disease is only discovered when your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope and hears an abnormal heart murmur (heart sound).

Many people with heart valve disease can live a normal life for many years, with little treatment. In some cases the valve may need to be repaired or replaced. This depends on which of the valves is affected, the severity of your condition and if it is getting worse. Increased awareness and early detection of this condition can mean heart valve disease is entirely treatable. Lifestyle changes and medicines often can treat symptoms successfully and delay problems for many years. Eventually, though, you may need surgery or a less invasive procedure to repair or replace the damaged valve.

Remember, heart disease – and heart valve disease in particular – is easier to treat when detected early, so keep an eye on our website for a full article on heart valve disease coming shortly.