Feb. 22 Is National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day

2017 marks the inaugural year of National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, to be celebrated this year on Feb. 22.

A partnership between 21 organizations, the effort endeavors to increase recognition of the specific risks and symptoms of heart valve disease, improve detection and treatment, and ultimately save lives.

“The life-altering seriousness of heart valve disease, combined with the fact that symptoms are often difficult to detect or dismissed as a ‘normal’ part of aging, makes the reported lack of public awareness dangerous,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, president and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, one of the day’s partner organizations. “We felt strongly that we needed to establish National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day with the support of our leading partners in the space, and we are grateful to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for listing the day on the National Health Observances Calendar. The help of this esteemed village represents a tremendous step forward in raising awareness about this condition, improving detection and treatment, and, most importantly, saving lives.”

Heart valve disease occurs if one or more of your four heart valves don’t work well. Birth defects, age-related changes, infections, or other conditions can cause one or more of your heart valves to not open fully to let enough blood out or to let blood leak back into the heart chambers.

When valve damage reduces blood flow, the heart has to work harder and the body gets less oxygen—leading to a number of symptoms that can include shortness of breath; weakness or dizziness; pain, tightness, or discomfort in the chest; fainting or feeling faint; fatigue; rapid or irregular heartbeat; lightheadedness; decrease in exercise capacity; and swollen abdomen or ankles and feet.

“Heart valve disease can affect the very young to the very old and affect those in developed as well as developing countries. Valve disease can be detected early with a physical exam and simple tests, and when treatment is timed appropriately, most patients can lead a normal and productive life” says Dr. Manish Chauhan, a practicing cardiologist and founder of CardioVisual.

However, people with HVD do not always have symptoms, even if their disease is severe. For these people, a heart murmur is an important clue. For those who do experience symptoms, the symptoms may be dismissed as a “normal” part of aging.

Each year, an estimated 22,000 people in the U.S. die from HVD.  For patients with severe aortic stenosis, their survival rate is as low as 50% at 2 years after the onset of symptoms and 20% at 5 years.  Fortunately, valve disease can usually be successfully treated with valve repair and replacement in patients of all ages

The Alliance for Aging Research cited a study of 2,000 U.S. adults that found that three out of four know little to nothing about valve disease . Although awareness increases with age, 30 percent of respondents over the age of 65 say they know nothing about HVD.

The newly minted Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day offers an opportunity for partners to collaborate and amplify each other’s messages about the disease.

CardioVisual is a free mobile app that supports dissemination of reliable information about this deadly condition through content that is reviewed and used by cardiologists to help patient better understand their heart problems, treatments and procedures. Learn more about heart valve disease in the “Structure” area of CardioVisual, where we’ve got short educational videos demonstrating devices that can repair valve disease, as well as information about heart valve replacements.

Feb. 22 Is National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day