Kensington MP, Victoria Borwick, showed her support for the charity, Heart Valve Voice, by having a cardiac specialist check her for heart disease.
Heart valve disease is a progressive condition usually associated with ageing, where the valves which help the organ to function become damaged through wear and cease to function efficiently. Approximately 1 million people over 65 in the UK are affected by HVD.
However, as part of the awareness raising project being supported by Victoria Borwick MP, Heart Valve Voice want to tell members of the public that a quick test using a stethoscope can be done by any qualified medical professional.
A doctor can listen for a characteristic heart ‘murmur’ via a stethoscope, which is usually the first indication of a problem with the heart valves. This is often followed up with an echocardiogram test to confirm the diagnosis.
Victoria Borwick said that “it was fascinating to learn more about heart valve disease at parliament,” adding “this disease affects a high proportion of the UK population, yet it’s worrying that there are such low levels of awareness and concern across the country.”
She also said: “I welcome the work of Heart Valve Voice in raising awareness and seeking to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease and I am happy to support their campaign.”
A recent survey revealed 94% of the over 60s in the UK do not know what aortic stenosis is, and 72% of over 60s reported that they rarely, or never, have their hearts listened to by a doctor. Once patients are diagnosed, Heart Valve Voice is also calling for a clearer pathway between primary, secondary and tertiary care to ensure more effective management of the disease across the UK.
Consultant Cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital and Heart Valve Voice Trustee, Shelley Rahman-Haley, said: “People with heart valve disease are not recognizing symptoms when they arise, or not receiving a quick heart check up when they visit their GP.”
She continues to explain “there is significant under diagnosis as well as incorrect referrals due to a lack of education and awareness” which is why “Heart Valve Voice is campaigning for stethoscope checks and echocardiogram tests for heart valve disease to be incorporated as part of routine checks in the over 60s.”
Wil Woan, Chief Executive of Heart Valve Voice said: “Heart Valve Voice is grateful for the support of Victoria Borwick MP, who is highlighting the importance of increased awareness and treatment of heart valve disease within their constituency. It’s hugely important that we continue to engage parliamentarians and policymakers to promote the use of the stethoscope and to work towards ensuring there is a clear and effective treatment pathway between primary care, secondary care and expert heart teams to ensure more effective management of the disease. The more we listen, the more lives we save.”