Despite more than 11 million Americans being impacted by heart valve disease, an estimated 3 in 4 have little to no knowledge of what valve disease is. This February during American Heart Month and on February 22 – Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day — it’s especially important that we spread awareness, because successful outcomes depend on understanding risk factors, recognizing symptoms, and receiving timely medical treatment.
Age is the most common risk factor—with 1 in 10 adults over age 75 impacted by the disease. Other cardiovascular diseases and conditions such as a previous heart attack, hypertension, and high cholesterol can also increase risk. Diabetes and treatments for certain types of cancer can also be risk factors. It’s important to note that, because some of these risk factors are more prevalent in black Americans, heart valve disease can develop at a younger age, which highlights the importance of when to start screening for valve disease.
Symptoms of heart valve disease can include lightheadedness, irregular heart rhythm or chest pain, tiredness, edema, or feeling “off” in general. These symptoms can be similar to other conditions or may even be improperly dismissed as a “normal” part of aging, so it’s important to talk to a medical professional about getting a stethoscope check. Doctors can often detect heart murmurs by using a stethoscope, which if heard, may require more testing.
This month, more than 119 organizations across the U.S. and around the world will mark Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day to collectively raise awareness and emphasize the need for early detection and treatment of this serious disease. Join this cause by taking the challenge, or challenging your supporters, to see just how easy it is to get their hearts checked. Complete the challenge in just two easy steps:
- Go to your healthcare professional to get your heart listened to; OR schedule an appointment to get your heart listened to; OR get a loved one to schedule an appointment to get their heart listened to.
- Share a picture on your favorite social media platform to show that you or your loved one took the challenge. Use #ListentoYourHeart and #ValveDiseaseDay in your posts and share a picture on the way to your appointment, at the appointment, getting your heart listened to, or even of your calendar with the scheduled appointment.
Visit ValveDiseaseDay.org to learn more about participating and challenging your supporters and download easy-to-use social media graphics here.