To the editor:
Feb. 22 marked the third annual National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day. A common but little-known condition, heart valve disease (HVD) occurs when one or more of the heart’s four valves is damaged. This can result in major complications, possibly death. HVD impacts as many as 11 million Americans. Yet, three in four people have little to no knowledge about it.
Even worse, 25,000 people die every year from HVD, although effective treatment is possible in most cases. Recognizing the signs and knowing what might put you at risk is the first step. Those older than 75 years or individuals with a history of heart conditions are particularly vulnerable. Common symptoms include fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath, though some people might experience no symptoms at all.
In this case, a simple check with a stethoscope can reveal a heart murmur, a common sign of HVD. I urge you to join the national discussion surrounding HVD. It could save your or a loved one’s life. For more information, you can visit www.ValveDiseaseDay.org.
Sue Peschin is the President and CEO for the Alliance for Aging Research.