The first-ever National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day was celebrated throughout the country today, as organizations, advocates, and individuals join together to increase recognition about the risks of heart valve disease (HVD) and improve detection and treatment access to ultimately save lives.
“Today we mark a nationwide movement to raise awareness about a disease that has not received the attention it demands. Considering that heart valve disease affects more than five million Americans, public awareness of the condition is shockingly low. A recent survey from the Alliance for Aging Research found that three out of four adults know little to nothing about valve disease,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance for Aging Research president and CEO. “The good news is that, while heart valve disease can be serious, innovative treatment saves lives and enables most patients to enjoy significant improvements in their quality of life. In this case, education and awareness have the potential to make a tremendous difference.”
The briefing featured Dennis and Ann Dobkowski, American Heart Association Heart Valve Ambassadors. They will share their personal experience with the condition.
First-Ever Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day put the condition in the national spotlight
The National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day centered around four key messages:
- Listen to your body. HVD, which disrupts blood flow in the heart by affecting how a valve opens or closes, is not always serious, but can lead to major complications, including death. It can often be detected when a health care professional, while listening to the heart, hears a heart murmur. Follow-up testing may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
- Know your risk factors. Age is the greatest risk factor for HVD. Unfortunately, the symptoms of older adults are too often dismissed as a “normal” part of aging.
One in eight people ages 75 and older are estimated to have moderate to severe HVD. If someone has had a previous heart condition, they could be at higher risk for valve disease.
- Get your heart checked regularly. During regular check-ups, doctors often detect the early warning signs of HVD. Valve disease can usually be successfully treated with valve repair and replacement in patients of all ages.
- Spread the word and raise awareness. Through education efforts such as National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, strides can be made against the disease.
The campaign was initiated by the Alliance for Aging Research and has been joined by 20 national partners. It is also supported by a resolution (H.Res.146) introduced by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has listed the awareness day on its National Health Observances Calendar (NHO) at Healthfinder.gov.