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Heart Valve Disease Hits One of Ten Elderly Women Warns Educational Campaign

Alliance for Aging Research says it hits men and women but women tend to have worse prognosis

Graphic of heart valves from MedlinePlusOct. 10, 2014 - A new campaign has been launched aimed at educating about heart valve disease in women, a condition that causes damage to one or more of the heart’s four valves and can lead to loss of independence, disability and death. It affects one in 10 women age 75 and over and one in 50 of all adult women, says the Alliance for Aging Research.

“Older age is a risk factor for heart valve disease,” according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “As you age, your heart valves thicken and become stiffer. Also, people are living longer now than in the past. As a result, heart valve disease has become an increasing problem.” (More about heart valve disease below news report.)

While the disease affects both men and women, females tend to have a worse prognosis than men. This is often because women are more likely to ignore their symptoms and delay seeing their health care professional. Research has also shown that women who experience symptoms of vale disease are often misdiagnosed as having anxiety and do not get appropriate treatment.

 

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“Our campaign was inspired by the need to get more information out there about the dangers of undiagnosed valve disease in women,” says Lindsay Clarke, vice president of health programs for the Alliance.

“We want to educate on both the symptoms of valve disease and emphasize the importance of seeking treatment as soon as those symptoms occur. With early detection and proper treatment, we can help women avoid the potentially devastating effects of valve disease."

At the center of the Alliance’s campaign is a newly developed valve disease workshop kit that is available to community partners and organizations. This workshop kit provides all of the resources necessary for community leaders to conduct workshops at hospitals, senior centers, churches and other locations.

It includes a leader’s guide with tips and talking points for the workshop, a consumer brochure and quizzes, a slide presentation to be used during the workshop, and more. 

The materials can be downloaded for free from the Alliance’s valve disease page.

Also available on the page are:

>>  An educational “pocket film” about the disease that can be watched on YouTube. (Note: The Alliance offers a variety of these films focused on health-related topics at this the website.)

>>  Fact sheets on the basics of valve disease and tips for patients on how to talk to a health care professional if they think they are experiencing its symptoms.

>>  Podcasts featuring interviews with a valve surgery patient, a cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon.

>>  An educational quiz that tests knowledge of the condition.

“Whether people are educated in a community setting or learn on their own, we want these resources to reach as many people as possible,” says Clarke.

“The Alliance is committed to our mission to help people live longer, healthier, more productive lives.”

Notes:

About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research reports to be the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health.  The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit www.agingresearch.org for more information.


Heart valve graphic from MedinePlusAbout Heart Valve Diseases - MedlinePlus

Also called: Valvular heart disease 

Your heart has four valves. Normally, these valves open to let blood flow through or out of your heart, and then shut to keep it from flowing backward. But sometimes they don't work properly. If they don't, you could have

  • Regurgitation - when blood leaks back through the valve in the wrong direction

  • Mitral valve prolapse - when one of the valves, the mitral valve, has "floppy" flaps and doesn't close tightly. It's one of the most common heart valve conditions. Sometimes it causes regurgitation.

  • Stenosis - when the valve doesn't open enough and blocks blood flow

Valve problems can be present at birth or caused by infections, heart attacks, or heart disease or damage. The main sign of heart valve disease is an unusual heartbeat sound called a heart murmur. Your doctor can hear a heart murmur with a stethoscope. But many people have heart murmurs without having a problem. Heart tests can show if you have a heart valve disease. Some valve problems are minor and do not need treatment. Others might require medicine, medical procedures, or surgery to repair or replace the valve.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

More Information:

>> Heart Valve Disease (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

>> Heart Valves Explained(American Heart Association)

 

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