Washington, DC (January 20, 2023) – On February 22, hundreds of organizations, advocates, and individuals will mark Valve Disease Day by joining together to increase recognition about the risks of heart valve disease and improve detection and treatment access to ultimately save lives. More than 25,000 deaths are attributed to valve disease in the U.S. each year.
“While heart valve disease affects more than 11.6 million Americans and causes an estimated 25,000 deaths each year, public awareness and understanding of the condition is shockingly low,” says Lindsay Clarke, JD, Senior Vice President of Health Education and Advocacy for the Alliance for Aging Research, adding that a survey by the Alliance found that three out of four people know little to nothing about heart valve disease, leaving too many going undiagnosed and untreated. “The good news is that while heart valve disease can be serious, early detection with a simple stethoscope check can lead to diagnoses, successful treatment, and many saved lives.
The most common risk factors for valve disease are age (1 in 10 people 75 and older are estimated to have moderate or severe heart valve disease), other cardiovascular diseases and conditions such as previous heart attack, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and valve damage from treatments for certain types of cancer. People in communities of color tend to develop heart valve disease at a younger age and should be screened sooner due to this higher risk.
While awareness is low, there is hope for the future. In December, the Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act – the CAROL Act – was passed by Congress to increase awareness and research on valve disease. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) in memory of his late wife, Carol Leavell Barr, who died from sudden cardiac arrest due to an underlying condition known as mitral valve prolapse — a type of heart valve disease — this measure passed unanimously in the House and Senate. It is being celebrated this Vale Disease Day and every day as an important step forward in not only raising awareness and increasing knowledge about risk factors and detection, but also making critical investments in research.
The participation of 119 organizations across the U.S. and around the world in the Valve Disease Day campaign, also brings hope for greater awareness in the future.
This year, the Valve Disease Day partners are calling on everyone to take the “Listen to Your Heart” Challenge. “We know that a simple stethoscope check by a medical professional can save lives, so we’re asking everyone to make an appointment to get their heart listened to or encourage a loved one to do the same,” says Clarke. “To complete the challenge, people can share a photo of themselves getting their heart listened to, the appointment in their planner, driving in the car to the appointment, or a similar image on social media with #ValveDiseaseDay and #ListenToYourHeart. It’s easy to get your heart checked and even easier to show your followers how simple it is.”
Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day activities will be held globally on February 22 and will involve in heart screenings, the sharing of stories, educational events, social media campaigns, and more.
You can learn more and access resources for the Listen to Your Heart Challenge and more at www.ValveDiseaseDay.org and by following #ValveDiseaseDay and #ListenToYourHeart on your favorite social media platform. Many resources are available in Spanish and French, with more being added.
About the Alliance
Since 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research has served as a trusted source of health information for both consumers and health care professionals on diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect older adults and has led numerous successful advocacy campaigns promoting the health and independence of older adults. Recognizing the seriousness of heart valve disease, and the fact that disease symptoms are often difficult to detect or dismissed as a normal part of aging, the Alliance is leading this effort to raise awareness through Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day. Learn more about the Alliance at www.agingresearch.org.
To interview someone from the Alliance for Aging Research or one of our more than 100 partner organizations on the topic of heart valve disease and awareness day activities, email Katie Riley, Vice President of Communications, at [email protected].