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New group launched to tackle heart valve disease in the UK

LONDON, April 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --



New patient-physician group, Heart Valve Voice, launched as survey results show lack of awareness about heart valve disease in the UK, despite disease putting 1 million ageing lives at risk 

  • Heart Valve Voice, the UK's first and only multidisciplinary group solely focused on heart valve disease, has launched today to raise awareness of the severity of heart valve disease
  • Approximately 1 million people over 65 years of age in the UK are thought to suffer from heart valve disease[1]
  • New survey data highlights that less than 3% of over 60s in the UK are concerned about heart valve disease[2] - the demographic most likely to suffer from the condition

Leading physicians and patients have today joined together to launch the first ever group - Heart Valve Voice - to tackle heart valve disease in the UK after new survey results highlighted a worrying lack of concern about the disease amongst the over 60s; the demographic most likely to suffer from the condition.

Results of the survey commissioned by Heart Valve Voice reveal that less than 3% of the UK's over 60s are concerned by heart valve disease[2]even though it affects approximately one million people over 65 years of age in the UK.[1] Additionally, more than half of people aged over 60 claimed that their doctor rarely or never checks their heart with a stethoscope,[2] despite this being one of the simplest ways to detect heart valve disease.[3]

Heart Valve Voice, a new multidisciplinary group launched today, brings together patients and doctors in the field of heart valve disease. It aims to raise awareness of the severity of the disease, encourage its timely detection and ensure more patients receive the right treatment at the right time; ultimately leading to a future with greater quality and longevity of life.

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Heart Valve Voice Chair and Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, University Hospital of South Manchester states: "Heart valve disease can have catastrophic consequences if the symptoms are mistaken or simply put down to being a sign of ageing. At the moment many people are referred to surgery too late and as a result they do not derive the optimal benefits from surgery and their future health may be compromised. It is important that we push for earlier diagnosis and treatment, and this is what Heart Valve Voice aims to do, as when it comes to heart valve disease 'if you miss it, you miss out'."

The lack of awareness of heart valve disease amongst both patients and healthcare professionals is of increasing concern due to the poor prognosis if left untreated. Aortic stenosis, which affects 2-7% of over 65s, can lead to death within two years if left untreated in severe symptomatic cases.[4]

Additionally, epidemiological studies have identified a striking relationship between heart valve disease and advancing age, with estimates suggesting that by the age of 75, the prevalence of heart valve disease is over 13%.[5]  With the UK over-65 population set to nearly double by 2050, this adds to the cause for concern.[6]

Ivy Lovell, a heart valve disease patient and member of Heart Valve Voice, comments: "I wasn't aware of heart valve disease and it wasn't until after a few health scares that the condition was finally detected. Since being treated with a minimally invasive procedure called TAVI, I've felt in perfect health. I'm 90 years of age, and I can take long walks and drive to see my family. Effective diagnosis and management gave me my life back. So, in being a part of Heart Valve Voice and raising awareness about this condition I hope I can help other patients who may not be as lucky as me."

Heart valve disease is severely debilitating and a potentially fatal condition[3] yet, many people put symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue and chest pain[7] down to the natural ageing process. However, if diagnosed in good time, heart valve disease can be effectively treated through surgical or less-invasive procedures, improving the quality and longevity of life.

Dr Jarir Amarin, General Practitioner at Carlton House Surgery in Enfield, Middlesex, and member of Heart Valve Voice concludes: "Heart Valve Voice would like to encourage people to talk to their doctor. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, lightheadedness or chest tightness, it is important that you see your doctor. These symptoms may not just be part of the ageing process, but could be an indication of heart valve disease, which can be treated and help you to regain a greater quality of life."

Call to Action 

Heart Valve Voice believes every patient with heart valve disease, or those over 65 years of age at risk of having heart valve disease, should receive a timely diagnosis, effective care and optimal treatment at the earliest opportunity. The group is calling for every patient to have a right to expect:

  • Provision of understandable and accurate information about heart valve disease from their healthcare professional
  • Automatic screening and routine stethoscope use to aid diagnosis whenever possible symptoms of heart valve disease present
  • Appropriate referral and follow-up between primary, secondary and tertiary care
  • Access to treatment accompanied by a clear and personalised care plan
  • Frequent updates, by a preferred method of communication, throughout the treatment pathway

Feeling older than your age? Think HEART Valve Disease:

Having chest pain - Are you suffering from chest pain, dizziness, or experiencing palpitations?

Exercise difficulties - Are you finding it difficult to exercise and move around as easily?

Age - Are you feeling older than your age?

Respiratory difficulties - Are you feeling short of breath?

Tiredness - Are you suffering from tiredness and fatigue?

Visit your  Doctor!

For more information on heart valve disease and Heart Valve Voice, please visit the Heart Valve Voice website at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter @HeartValveVoice #HeartValveDisease #HeartValveVoice



About Heart Valve Voice 

Heart Valve Voice is a multi-disciplinary group of experts in the field of heart valve disease including patients and representatives from cardiac societies, cardio-thoracic surgery, interventional cardiology, primary care and cardiac patient groups.

Formed in 2013, the group exists to help support people with heart valve disease and to drive change in the diagnosis, treatment and management of the condition in the UK to ultimately provide patients with longevity and quality of life. Further information on the group and heart valve disease can be found at http://www.heartvalvevoice.co.uk.  

The launch of Heart Valve Voice has been supported with funding from Edwards Lifesciences. Edwards Lifesciences is the global leader in the science of heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring. Additional company information can be found at http://www.edwards.com.

About heart valve disease 

Heart valve disease is a condition caused by either wear or disease of the heart valve(s), affecting the flow of blood through the heart.[8] When diseased or defective, heart valves may not open or close properly and can interfere with the flow of blood. The most common valve problems involve the mitral and aortic valves, which are located on the left side of the heart.[8]

Aortic valve stenosis is most often due to age-related degeneration or hardening (calcification) of the aortic valve, leading to progressive narrowing (stenosis) or leakage - changes which compromise valve function and impair normal blood flow through the heart.[8]

Heart valve disease and disorders are almost always detected during a medical visit. A heart "murmur" or "click-murmur" heard through a physician's stethoscope is usually the first indication of a valve disorder.

Current clinical guidelines on the management of aortic stenosis make a clear distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic conditions - however, what they identify is the need to treat severe aortic stenosis as early as possible. Without treatment, patients with severe disease face reduced longevity, and impairments in physical and social functioning and emotional well-being that contribute to poor quality of life.[9],[10],[11],[12]

Many heart valve disease patients present in hospital with advanced heart failure[13],[14] and are ultimately denied optimal outcomes due to late access to surgery. Disease intervention data showsthat nearly half (46%) of all isolated aortic valve replacement surgery patients and 42% of isolated mitral valve repair patients display advanced symptoms of heart failure at the time of surgery.

Recent research 

In 2013 a European heart health survey was conducted among 9,579 people over the age of 60. It was completed online across 10 European countries. In the UK over 1005 over 65s participated in the survey to assess the awareness and understanding of heart valve disease, the level of concern of heart valve health and the frequency of heart health check-ups and stethoscope testing.[2]

The launch of Heart Valve Voice has been supported with funding from Edwards Lifesciences. 


1. Office for National Statistics. Available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk. Accessed 24 April 2014. 

2. Opinion Matters Consumer Survey 2014. Data on File. 

3. Heart valve disease. Bupa. Available at: http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/h/heart-valve-disease. Accessed 24 March 2014. 

4. Spaccarotella C et al. Pathophysiology of aortic stenosis and approach to treatment with percutaneous valve implantation. Circulation Journal. 2011;75:11-19. 

5. Nkomo V et al. Burden of valvular heart disease: a population-based study. Lancet. 2006;368:1005-11. 

6. Key issues for the New Parliament 2010. The ageing population. Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/key_issues/Key%20Issues%20The%20ageing%20population2007.pdf. Accessed 24 April 2014. 

7. Lindroos M, Kupari M, Heikkala J, Tilvis R. Prevalence of aortic valve abnormalities in the elderly: an echocardiographic study of a random population sample. J Am Coll Cardiol 1993;21:1220-5. 

8. Patient.co.uk. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/heart-valves-and-valve-disease. Accessed 24 April 2014. 

9. Badran AA, Vohra HA, Livesey SA. Unoperated severe aortic stenosis: decision making in an adult UK-based population. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2012;94:416-21. 

10. Lancellotti P, Rosenhek R, Pibarot P, et al. ESC Working Group on Valvular Heart Disease Position Paper--heart valve clinics: organization, structure, and experiences. Eur Heart J 2013. 

11. van Geldorp MW, Heuvelman HJ, Kappetein AP, et al. Quality of life among patients with severe aortic stenosis. Neth Heart J 2013;21:21-7. 

12. van Geldorp MW, Heuvelman HJ, Kappetein AP, Busschbach JJ, Takkenberg JJ, Bogers AJ. The effect of aortic valve replacement on quality of life in symptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis. Neth Heart J 2013;21:28-35. 

13. Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Blue Book online (6th edtn.). Available at: http://bluebook.scts.org/. Accessed 24 April 2014.

14. Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Available at: http://www.scts.org/. Accessed 24 April 2014. 

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