About Heart Valve Disease
More than five million people in the U.S. currently have heart valve disease (HVD).[i] Valve disease involves damage to one or more of the heart’s valves which can reduce blood flow, causing the heart to work harder and reducing oxygen to the body. This can lead to a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, tightness in the chest, and fatigue.
However, people with valve disease do not always have symptoms, even if their disease is severe. For these people, a heart murmur is the most important clue. People with noticeable symptoms may also dismiss them, or have them dismissed by a health care professional, as a “normal” and expected consequence of aging. While not all types of valve disease are serious, some can lead to major complications—including death.
Fortunately, valve disease can usually be successfully treated with valve repair or replacement in patients of all ages. This makes early detection and diagnosis by a medical professional critical and awareness of the disease an important tool in reducing its burden. For more information about heart valve disease, visit the Alliance’s Living with Valve Disease website.
The Alliance for Aging Research commissioned a number of public opinion survey tools, conducted by Belden Russonello Strategists, to explore the question of how knowledgeable Americans are when it comes to heart valve disease and to better understand the experiences of heart valve patients as they are diagnosed and seek treatment.
A national omnibus survey asked questions of 2,018 adults,18 years old and older, living in the continental United States. The questions were put on Telephone CARAVAN, conducted using randomly selected landline telephone numbers (1,018 interviews) and randomly selected mobile (cell) telephone numbers (1,000 interviews). The margin of error for the sample of 2,018 is +/-2.18% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.
An on-line survey of 406 individuals with a diagnosis of heart valve disease used the Harris Panel, including members of its third party panel providers, to obtain a robust representative sample of general U.S. population.
Additionally, two focus groups of HVD patients were held in New York City and Chicago. The sessions were moderated by Belden Russonello Strategists and verbatim quotations from the groups are included in the report for the online survey.
The omnibus survey reveals that Americans have very little familiarity with heart valve disease. Over half of the respondents say they have heard of heart valve disease, but only 9 percent say they know a great deal about valve disease, while another 15 percent know somewhat about it. The omnibus survey also finds that awareness increased by age; however 30 percent of those age 65 and over know nothing about heart valve disease. Four percent of the respondents to the survey say they have been diagnosed with heart valve disease, while 9 percent of those age 65 and older report having such a diagnosis. The results are available here.
The online survey finds that more than two thirds of the survey respondents who had a diagnosis of heart valve disease knew a limited amount or nothing about valve disease prior to their diagnosis. It also reveals that six in 10 respondents were diagnosed with heart valve disease only because they went to see a health care provider for a regular checkup or some other issue.
When it comes to the patient experience, there are a number of barriers to optimal care, including the fact that one third of patients indicate that simply understanding “how to go about getting treated” for HVD serves as a barrier. A quarter note they do not have family or friends who “can help me enough.” Respondents who have received care express high levels of satisfaction with treatment and a high reliance on cardiologists for care. The full results, along with feedback from the focus groups, are available here.
An infographic illustrating the survey results can be found here.
Facts and Figures
- More than five million people in the United States currently have heart valve disease. [ii]
- More than 22,000 Americans die from heart valve disease every year. [iii]
- More than one in eight people age 75 and older are estimated to have moderate to severe valve disease. [iv]
- One in 10 women age 75 and older are estimated to have valve disease. [v]
National Heart Valve Awareness Day
The potential seriousness of the condition and the current lack of awareness are the reasons why the Alliance is partnering with 29 national organizations to call on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, beginning annually on February 22, 2017, on its National Health Observances Calendar.
A National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day will raise public awareness about the specific risks of heart valve disease and ensure patients receive a timely diagnosis and proper treatment. It will coincide with other activities occurring during American Heart Month.
- Living with Valve Disease: A comprehensive website dedicated to educating about HVD
- Aortic Stenosis in Seniors Explained: This short “pocket film” gives a quick look at aortic stenosis—a common type of HVD.
- Heart Valve Disease in Women: This “pocket film” teaches women about valve disease–how you get it, how you detect it, and how you treat it.
For more information about this campaign and for interviews with experts, please contact Noel Lloyd via email or 202.370.7852.
[i] Nkomo et al. 2006. Burden of Valvular Heart Diseases: A Population-Based Study. Lancet 368(9540):1005-11.
[iii] Go et al. 2013. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2013 Update. Circ 127(1).
[iv] Nkomo et al. 2006. Burden of Valvular Heart Diseases: A Population-Based Study. Lancet 368(9540):1005-11.