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Aortic Stenosis Campaign Targeting Seniors Launched by Alliance for Aging Research

This life-threatening disease is becoming a much greater burden as more and more in the U.S. are reaching the dangerous age of 70 and older - see video, take quiz

See video below...June 12, 2014 - A new campaign from the Alliance for Aging Research aims to raise awareness about the effects of aortic stenosis, a disease caused by the gradual buildup of calcium deposits in the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis mainly affects older people, according to the American Heart Association; usually beginning after age 60, but often does not show symptoms until ages70 or even 80.

“People of all ages suffer from aortic stenosis, but this condition is even more prevalent in Americans over 75,” says Lindsay Clarke, vice president of Health Programs for the Alliance.

“The symptoms of aortic stenosis are often improperly dismissed as a normal part of aging, and older adults are often made to believe that they are not good candidates for surgery.”

 

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It affects more than 1.5 million Americans and the number is climbing rapidly with the steady increase in longevity. If left untreated, aortic stenosis can lead to fainting, chest pain, fatigue and, in worst case scenarios, death.

Aortic Stenosis: A Heart Valve Disease

Aortic stenosis is a type of heart disease where the main outlet for blood to be pumped to the body—the aortic valve—becomes narrowed over time.  It's more common with age and if left untreated, can lead to significantly decreased quality of life, heart failure, and even death.  Fortunately,  aortic stenosis (AS) can usually be treated with valve replacement in patients of all ages.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AS, or may be experiencing its symptoms, talk with a health care professional about the disease and treatment options, and learn more through the resources below.

To learn more about other types of valve disease, visit the Alliance's valve disease page.

Who Is at Risk for Heart Valve Disease?

Older age is the major risk factor for heart valve disease. As you age, your heart valves thicken and become stiffer.

People who have a history of infective endocarditis (IE), rheumatic fever, heart attack, or heart failure—or previous heart valve disease—also are at higher risk for heart valve disease. In addition, having risk factors for IE, such as intravenous drug use, increases the risk of heart valve disease.

You're also at higher risk for heart valve disease if you have risk factors for coronary heart disease. These risk factors include high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, insulin resistance, diabetes, overweight or obesity, lack of physical activity, and a family history of early heart disease.

Some people are born with an aortic valve that has two flaps instead of three. Sometimes an aortic valve may have three flaps, but two flaps are fused together and act as one flap. This is called a bicuspid or bicommissural aortic valve. People who have this congenital condition are more likely to develop aortic heart valve disease.

The Campaign

This interactive, multimedia campaign by the Alliance features videos, quizzes, podcasts and other resources. Its main goals are to educate about the seriousness of aortic stenosis and offer insights on how it is treated, with an added emphasis on its impact on older Americans. 

Resources for the campaign include:

This short "pocket film" gives a quick look at aortic stenosis—what it means to have the disease, how it's not a normal part of aging, what the latest treatment options are (including TAVR—the latest in valve replacement), and how people of all ages can be good candidates for replacement.

·                  >  A short “pocket film” that takes a comprehensive look at aortic stenosis, with a focus on older adults

·                  >  A guide for health care professionals, including highlights from the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology 2014 guidelines on valve disease

·                  >  Videos and podcasts from experts offering insights into the condition

·                  >   Facts, figures and helpful information shared through the Alliance’s Twitter handle @aging_research using #stenosisawareness

Educational Quizzes Part of Campaign

Are You at Risk?

Take this quiz to find out if you're at risk for aortic stenosis, plus learn more about the disease and how it's treated.  You can also print a copy of your results and find additional helpful information once you're done with the quiz.  If you think you may be at risk, take the printed copy to your next health care professional visit and start an important conversation about your heart health.

After Your Diagnosis

If you've been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, take this quiz to learn more about the disease and its treatment.  When you're done, print out your answers and take them to your next health care professional visit to help start a conversation about you and your aortic stenosis.

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 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 agingresearch.org for more information.


 MedlinePlus

More About Heart Valve 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

 

 

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