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Listen to Your Heart and Help Raise Awareness About Valve Disease

February is American Heart Month. As you think about the heart health of you and your loved ones, don’t forget about heart valve disease. Heart valve disease impacts as many as 11 million Americans and involves damage to one of the heart’s four valves. While some types are not serious, others can lead to major complications—including death. Valve disease can be there at birth or develop later in life. Age is the greatest risk factor and 1 in 10 people over the age of 75 are estimated to have moderate to severe disease.

Awareness is alarmingly low

A survey of adults in the U.S. found that, despite how serious heart valve disease can be, three out of four people know little to nothing about the disease. Further complicating matters, some of the symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath are frequently dismissed as a normal part of aging.

Recognizing the need to raise awareness, more than 55 organizations—led by the Alliance for Aging Research and including NCOA—come together each year on Feb. 22 with the common goal of encouraging people to Listen to their Hearts. This theme encourages everyone to know their risk factors, know the symptoms, listen to their hearts, and get them checked regularly.

How to get involved

On Feb. 22, there are events and outreach activities happening across the country. See if there’s something happening near you and join us on social media to learn more and to share your valve disease story. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter via @ValveDiseaseDay. A flagship event will be shared on Facebook Live, and a Twitter chat co-hosted with the American Heart Association will answer questions about valve disease and involve dozens of experts.

This is a disease that can usually be successfully treated with valve repair or replacement in patients of all ages if it’s recognized and treated in time. So Listen to Your Heart and help spread the word about heart valve disease.

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About Lindsay Clarke

Lindsay Clarke, JD, Vice President of Education & Advocacy, oversees the Alliance for Aging Research's health programs, and is involved in strategic planning and execution of the Alliance's mission and goals. She holds a J.D. degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law and a B.S. degree from the University of Michigan.