HVV Canada is proudly supporting our global colleagues as Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week takes place in various jurisdictions from September 14-20, 2020. Activities throughout the week aim to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease globally. Heart valve disease is a common, serious, but treatable condition, and it’s important to listen to your heart and ask your doctor for a stethoscope check if you are showing any signs or symptoms of heart valve disease.
This Awareness Week is also emphasizing a ‘cherish life’ message, as longer lifespans are an increasing reality being noted in global demographics. Our senior people, who are more commonly affected by heart valve disease, are crucial contributors to society and the economy. Untreated heart valve disease is a barrier to active aging, making early detection and timely treatment essential to increasing both longevity and quality of life.
Only 3% of older Canadians are aware of heart valve disease in its most common form, aortic stenosis. A lack of education on heart valve disease among Canadians, particularly among seniors, may have serious implications on communities as a fifth (21%) of this population act as a caregiver for a family member, grandchild, or elderly friend. If these individuals are unable to continue providing that support because of undiagnosed or untreated heart valve disease, our society may experience various challenges and difficulties as a result. Read our recent news release that discusses this in more detail here.
About Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease is a common, serious, but treatable condition, most commonly 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. Heart valve disease is caused by either wear, disease or damage of one or more of the heart’s valves, and it can also be present from birth (congenital heart disease).
Symptoms of heart valve disease can include chest tightness/pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeats, fainting and reduced physical activity. 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.
Detection of heart valve disease involves identifying symptoms and listening to the heart with a stethoscope for a ‘heart murmur’. A murmur does not always mean that there is a problem, but patients with warning signs, like a heart murmur, should be referred to a cardiologist who will perform additional examinations to confirm the diagnosis.
Studies show that outcomes for patients who aren’t treated for heart valve disease are significantly worse than for those that have undergone heart valve replacements. More than half of symptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis die within two years of developing symptoms if not treated. It is important to #ListenToYourHeart and ask your doctor for a stethoscope check if you have any of the mentioned signs or symptoms.
Additional Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week information can be found at www.heartvalvecouncil.org or by following along with #ListenToYourHeart on social media.
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 Cœur in France, Cuore Italia in Italy, Heart Valve Voice in the UK, US, Canada and Japan, AEPOVAC in Spain, PACO from Mexico, Croí, the heart and stroke charity from Ireland, Mended Hearts in the US and Street Doctor in the Netherlands.