Date: November 1st, 2009
Materials Raise Awareness and Encourage Physician-Patient Communication
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building off of a highly successful campaign that educated physicians on aortic stenosis (AS), the Alliance for Aging Research recently released new resources that teach patients about the disease and encourage critical physician-patient communication.
Aortic stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve which obstructs blood flow from the heart to the arteries. If left untreated, AS can lead to heart disease, significantly decreased quality of life, and sudden death. Aortic stenosis is a disease that is increasingly seen with age.
In most cases, AS can be successfully treated with aortic valve replacement (AVR) surgery--regardless of age. Despite the fact that the surgery is associated with better survival and considerable improvements in quality of life, AS is under-treated in the U.S. A survey conducted by the Alliance shows that this may, in large part, be due to patient and physician misconceptions regarding the risks and benefits of AVR surgery--including the incorrect belief that age is a contraindication. “There is a misconception among some doctors and patients that surgery shouldn’t be performed on older adults, when in fact AVR surgery can increase survival and improve quality of life for people of all ages,” said Daniel Perry, President & CEO of the Alliance.
There is also a general lack of awareness about the disease which often goes undiagnosed. Patients often mistake symptoms for a “normal part of aging,” don’t bring up their symptoms with their physicians, or make treatment decisions based on these misconceptions.
This program addresses these issues with materials targeted at both physicians and patients. A physician brochure entitled Aortic Stenosis in Seniors: A Physician’s Guide, provides guidelines for diagnosing and determining the severity of the disease, choosing the correct treatment for each patient, and talking with patients. Patient materials include a brochure entitled Aortic Stenosis: Facts About a Heart Valve Disease, podcasts featuring experts and patients, and an on-line quiz that tests users knowledge about the disease.
These materials complement previous resources on AS from the Alliance and are available free of charge at www.agingresearch.org
Founded in 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of aging Americans through public and private funding of medical research and geriatric education. The Alliance combines the interest of top scientists, public officials, business executives, and foundation leaders to promote a greater national investment in research and new technologies that will prepare our nation for the coming senior boom, and improve the quality of life for today’s older generation.