75 Partners and 1,000s of Advocates Drive Efforts to Raise Awareness and Encourage Early Detection of the Often Misunderstood but Potentially Fatal Disease
WASHINGTON, February 19, 2020 – This Saturday – February 22 – marks the fourth annual Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day (“Valve Disease Day”), a day dedicated to spotlighting the importance of detecting and treating heart valve disease. Countless heart valve patients, advocates, and international organizations are hosting events and activities, and coordinating outreach efforts, with the goal of educating their communities about the importance of knowing their risk factors and symptoms, and seeing a healthcare professional regularly to listen to their heart. The 75 partners of the official Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day campaign, spearheaded by the Alliance for Aging Research (the “Alliance”), are joined by advocates who are sharing their stories and voices to amplify the messages of this campaign.
Heart valve disease involves damage to one or more of the heart’s four valves. Heart valve disease can be there at birth, or develop from damage later in life from calcification, radiation to the chest, other heart diseases and conditions, or infection. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Americans have heart valve disease and each year, more than 25,000 people in the United States die from the disease. Fortunately, heart valve disease can usually be successfully treated with valve repair and replacement in patients of all ages. However, a recent survey found that three out of four knew little to nothing about the disease. To combat this lack of knowledge and in hopes of building awareness across the nation, the Alliance for Aging Research started the Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day campaign in 2017.
Every year, Valve Disease Day falls within both Black History Month and American Heart Month. The latter is an initiative created to bring awareness to the nationwide problem of heart and blood vessel diseases, and heart disease disproportionately impacts black communities—making a shared month a great opportunity.
African American adults experience risk factors for heart valve disease at earlier ages than whites. For example, 59 percent of African American men and 56 percent of African American women have high blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure increases the likelihood of heart failure, a primary risk factor for heart valve disease, and African Americans develop heart failure before the age of 50 at 20 times the rate of whites.
“While some types of heart valve disease are not serious, others can lead to major complications, including death,” said Susan Peschin, President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research. “And despite the millions of Americans affected by it, data shows that three in four adults know little to nothing about heart valve disease. Early diagnosis and intervention are key. This year, we are delighted to partner with The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to bring a platform to communities of color who may experience differences in detection and access to available heart valve disease treatments.”
To kick off the official Valve Disease Day activities, the Alliance and The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce are hosting a public community educational health event. The event will feature free health screenings and interactive exercise demonstrations, as well as a 1-hour educational program featuring healthcare experts, patient advocacy organizations, and community leaders from: The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Association of Black Cardiologists; WebMD; and the Alliance for Aging Research.
The event will be streamed live on the Valve Disease Day Facebook page starting at 11 a.m. EST so anyone interested in attending can join virtually.
“When we learned that too many Americans had never heard of heart valve disease, we decided that something had to be done to spread the word–including for those of color in our communities who are disproportionately impacted by lack of access to proper diagnosis and treatment,” said Lloyd Williams, President and CEO of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the official flagship event, Valve Disease Day activities include:
- A blog carnival on Tuesday, February 18 which featured the personal stories and experiences of valve disease day patients and advocacy organizations.
- An official #ValveDiseaseDay Twitter chat today, Wednesday, February 19, from 1-2 p.m. EST. Participants will include the Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day partners from across the nation, heart valve disease patients and advocates, heart valve disease experts and medical providers, and more.
- A live Facebook Q&A on Friday, February 21 at 1 p.m. EST during which experts will discuss heart valve disease symptoms, risks, detection, treatment, and the official Valve Disease Day campaign. Experts featured will be:
- John Whyte, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD
- Susan Peschin, MHS, President and CEO, Alliance for Aging Research
- A wide range of local awareness events and outreach activities led by Valve Disease Day partners, including social media, newsletters, blogs, media interviews, health fairs, lectures, and more. To find an event near you, visit www.ValveDiseaseDay.org/events.
“It is critically important to empower patients through education and knowledge. This way they can make informed decisions about their care,” said John Whyte, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD. “Although public awareness of heart valve disease is low, the efforts taken by heart valve disease patients, advocates, and the organizations participating in the annual Valve Disease Day are making important strides in educating the public about their risk factors, the importance of listening to their heart, and available treatment options.”
Learn more about the Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day events and awareness activities by following the #ValveDiseaseDay hashtag. More information about the campaign can be found at www.ValveDiseaseDay.org.
About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance believes advances in research help people live longer, happier, more productive lives and reduce healthcare costs over the long term. For more than 30 years, the Alliance has guided efforts to substantially increase funding and focus for aging at the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration; built influential coalitions to guide groundbreaking regulatory improvements for age-related diseases; and created award-winning, high-impact educational materials to improve the health and well-being of older adults and their family caregivers. For more information, visit www.agingresearch.org.
Vice President of Communications