Today, this February 22, HealthyWomen is proud to participate in National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day. At least five million Americans have heart valve disease (HVD); which can cause heart attacks, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, and other disease—significantly impacting quality of life and even leading to death.
Every year, an estimated 22,000 people in the U.S. die from HVD. HVD can be there at birth, or develop due to damage from previous heart conditions or infections. Age is the greatest risk factor for heart valve disease—one out of every eight people ages 75+ have it.
Symptoms of HVD can include shortness of breath; weakness or dizziness; pain, tightness, or discomfort in the chest; fainting or feeling faint; fatigue; rapid or irregular heartbeat; lightheadedness; decrease in exercise capacity; and swollen abdomen or ankles and feet. However, people with HVD do not always have symptoms, even if their disease is severe. For these people, a heart murmur is an important clue.
The good news is that most HVD can be successfully treated with valve repair or replacement in patients of all ages.
Unfortunately, awareness of heart valve disease is alarmingly low, with 40 percent of respondents to a national survey reporting that they have not heard of heart valve disease. This is why an awareness day dedicated to HVD is so important.
Learn more about HVD, the Awareness Day Campaign, and how you can join the movement at www.ValveDiseaseDay.org.