A heart ailment that kills hundreds of Iowans every year isn’t one most people know about. When people hear about heart disease, it usually brings to mind heart attacks or congestive heart disease, but not heart valve disease. Sue Peschin, president and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, says there’s very little public awareness about the potential health threat.
The older you get, the more your odds increase for having trouble with a heart valve, and Iowa’s population is one of the nation’s oldest, as nearly 17% of Iowans are now over age 65.
A heart valve disease campaign is underway to increase recognition of the risks and symptoms, improve detection and treatment, and ultimately save lives.
The best ways to avoid heart valve disease are familiar, maintaining a good diet and getting routine exercise. Still, the symptoms of heart valve disease are varied and sometimes don’t show up at all.
Just by listening to your heart, a physician should be able to detect a heart murmur, which is often the most important clue. She says heart valve disease can usually be successfully treated with valve repair or valve replacement in patients of all ages and ethnicities. A recent study found about 40-percent of people have never heard of heart valve disease and only one in four know even some details about this serious disease.