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Media Advisory: ‘Listen to Your Heart’ Screening and Educational Event in Washington, DC

Published February 10, 2023

Listen to Your Heart challenge logo

Washington, DC (February 8, 2023) – In honor of Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day on February 22, the Alliance for Aging Research and the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA) are joining forces to host a free event to raise awareness of heart valve disease. Led by Dr. Thomas MacGillivray, Physician Executive Director for Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Health and Chair of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, medical professionals from MedStar Health will provide basic stethoscope checks to listen for murmurs, a common sign of valve disease, to members of the community. Experts from the Alliance, NCBA, and MedStar Health will also provide important information on valve disease, the importance of screening, symptoms, and how to learn more and get involved in the movement!

  • What: Community Awareness & Heart Screening Event
  • When: 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, February 22
  • Where: Samuel J. Simmons NCBA Estates, 2801 14th St., NW, Washington, DC

Age is one of the greatest risk factors for valve disease. Other cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and previous heart attacks; as well as diabetes and treatment for certain cancers, also increase risk. In part because of higher rates of some of these risk factors, research shows that black Americans are more likely to develop heart valve disease at an earlier age and should be screened early.

No matter your risk factors, regular screening with a simple stethoscope check is important. This is just one of several similar events happening around the country and across the globe to mark Valve Disease Day and to emphasize the importance of screening. On February 22, hundreds of partner organizations and advocates will join together to increase recognition about the risks of heart valve disease and improve detection and treatment access to ultimately save lives.

Members of the media are invited to attend this screening event. Event organizers, heart health experts, and screening participants will be available for interview. We can also provide camera-ready graphics for your use. To attend, you must RSVP in advance by emailing [email protected].

Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day logo

About Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day:

  • 119 organizations across the U.S. and around the world will mark Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day on February 22, 2023.
  • Valve Disease Day activities involve heart screenings with stethoscopes, story sharing, educational events, social media campaigns, and more.
  • Call to action: Take the “Listen to Your Heart” Screening Challenge before February 22. Get your heart listened to or make an appointment to get your heart listened to, and share a photo at the doctor, during the car drive, at the appointment.
  • Visit to learn more and access free resources (many translated into Spanish and French), and graphics to accompany news stories.
  • Follow #ValveDiseaseDay and #ListenToYourHeart on your favorite social media platform.

About Heart Valve Disease:

  • Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart’s four valves is damaged, interrupting blood flow and often causing serious complications, including death.
  • More than 11 million Americans have heart valve disease.
  • More than 25,000 deaths are attributed to valve disease in the U.S. each year.
  • More than 84 million people around the world are impacted by heart valve disease.
  • Symptoms include lightheadedness, irregular heart rhythm or chest pain, tiredness, edema, and feeling off in general.
  • Heart murmurs are often detected through a simple stethoscope check. If a murmur is detected, additional tests such as an EKG, ECG, chest X-ray, or MRI can diagnose valve disease.

Valve disease risk factors:

  • Age is the greatest risk factor of valve disease: 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
  • Diabetes
  • Heart 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

News hooks:

  • February is American Heart Month and Black History Month.
  • 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.

Expert Quotes:

  • “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.“
  • “While advanced age is the greatest risk factor of heart valve disease, we know that people in communities of color are at a higher risk of developing this disease earlier,” says Karyne Jones, President and CEO of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA). “This screening event is so important to educate about symptoms and that a simple stethoscope check can save their life or a loved one’s life.”
  • Dr. Thomas MacGillivray, Physician Executive Director for Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Health and Chair of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, will speak at the screening event and will be available for interview.

About the Alliance for Aging Research

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

About the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc.

The National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc. was founded in 1970 to ensure that the particular concerns of elderly minorities would be addressed in the then-upcoming 1971 White House Conference on Aging. Since then, NCBA has helped protect and improve the quality of life for elderly populations, making certain-that legislators, policymakers, philanthropists, advocacy groups, service organizations, thought leaders, and the public-at-large include minority seniors in their programs, policy-and law-making, and giving. NCBA is one of the country’s oldest organizations dedicated to aging issues and the only national organization devoted to minority and low-income aging. Learn more at


To interview someone from the Alliance for Aging Research or one of our partner organizations on the topic of heart valve disease and awareness day activities, email Katie Riley, Vice President of Communications, at [email protected].

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