Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week

 

Sir, This week is International Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week. If you have never heard of heart valve disease, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know about it, and that is something that needs to change.

Heart valve disease is largely a condition of ageing, with as many as one in eight Irish adults over the age of 75 likely to develop it. Valve disease in younger people tends to have other causes, such as congenital defects or infections.

Worryingly, more than half of those with severe aortic stenosis – the most common form of heart valve disease – will die within two years if left untreated.

This shouldn’t happen because it’s relatively straightforward to detect, starting with a stethoscope examination.

Unfortunately, because the symptoms of heart valve disease, such as breathlessness and tiredness, mimic the common symptoms of ageing, it very often has a late diagnosis.

That’s why we are urging everyone 65 years and older to ask their doctor to listen to their heart with a stethoscope, at least once a year.

Early detection and diagnosis are key, and the good news is that heart valve disease is treatable through heart valve repair or replacement. – Yours, etc,

NEIL JOHNSON,

Chief Executive,

Croí­ Heart and

Stroke Centre,

Newcastle,

Galway.