Older patients “unaware” of heart valve disease risks

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Survey results published to mark Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week show that older Europeans are unaware of the risks of common, serious, but treatable heart valve disease. Data from the latest European Heart Health Survey show that only a quarter of older Europeans would visit their doctor for investigation of symptoms, including fatigue and reduced physical activity.

“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.”

“The senior population is a group at risk, more so as they grow older, so it is important that they are more aware of the disease and understand the severity of often hidden symptoms to help ensure early diagnosis and timely treatment. It is estimated by the age of 75, the prevalence of heart valve disease is 13% ,” said Helge Möllmann (St Johannes Hospital, Dortmund, Germany) lead clinician on the survey. “More work needs to be done to shift the awareness level and that is why this week, Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, is a key step for improved patient outcomes”.

Many people living with heart valve disease do not experience severe or noticeable symptoms, or simply put their symptoms down to ageing, which makes diagnosis of the disease challenging. The new survey reveals how a low percentage of older Europeans would seek an appointment with their GP if they experienced key heart valve disease symptoms such as fatigue (26.2%), reduced physical activity (19.9%) and ‘feeling older than your age’ (12.5%).1 Such hesitancy could potentially be harmful, as it prevents early detection opportunities.

“The Global Heart Hub patient groups are united in communicating a powerful message during Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week,” commented Neil Johnson, CEO of Irish heart and stroke charity, Croí and Director of Strategy and Development for the Global Heart Hub. “As the Survey results demonstrate, we need to cherish our older generation because of the essential contribution they make to our economies, communities and families. That starts with a regular stethoscope check for heart valve disease and culminates in effe


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