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Medical Health Aged Care, Seniors Interest

New study reveals 2-in-3 Australians are unaware of heart valve disease, described as ‘the next cardiac epidemic’

hearts4heart 4 mins read

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  • Heart valve disease affects more than half a million Australians. If left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and stroke.1 

  • More than a quarter of a million Australians are unaware they are living with heart valve disease.1 This number is projected to grow to 336,000 in 2031 and 435,000 in 2051.1 

  • Over a quarter (28%) of all Australians have never heard of heart valve disease and its impact and challenges.2 

  • Leading charity, hearts4heart, proudly supports free heart screening events in select hospitals across NSW and VIC.  

Monday, 26 February 2024, Sydney, Australia

Leading charity, hearts4heart, has commissioned new Australian research, revealing a concerning lack of awareness of the impact and symptoms of heart valve disease – a condition that can lead to heart failure and stroke.  

Heart valve disease is a serious and common condition where one or more of the valves in the heart do not open or close properly, which can lead to problems with blood flow.3 

More than half a million Australians have heart valve disease yet findings from the latest study revealed that only one third (33%) of all Australians are aware of the disease and its impact and challenges.2 This includes those who are living with the disease (3%), know someone personally who is living or has lived with the disease (14%), or are aware of it but don’t know anyone living with it (16%).2 

Common symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and dizziness, can often be dismissed and attributed to old age. Concerningly, some people with heart valve disease do not show symptoms or have no symptoms for many years, even if their disease is severe, all of which can make diagnosis difficult.3 

“If left undetected and untreated, heart valve disease can damage the heart’s valves and lead to heart failure, stroke, and an irregular heartbeat. These complications can have a significant toll on people’s quality of life and can also result in avoidable deaths,” said hearts4heart CEO and founder Tanya Hall. 

“However, if heart valve disease is diagnosed early, it is treatable, and people with the disease can live a full and happy life, which is why during Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, we are amplifying our efforts to ensure all Australians have the condition front of mind.” 

A simple stethoscope check to identify a heart murmur can help to detect heart valve disease, which can lead to an earlier diagnosis, reduce the risk of complications and enhance quality of life.  

In too many cases the illness is undetected, undiagnosed, untreated, or treated too late. If left untreated, certain patients with aortic valve disease, with symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, can die within 2 years of diagnosis, a prognosis that is worse than most cancers,” said Professor Dion Stub of Monash University and Interventional Cardiologist, Alfred Health. 

As part of Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week 2024, hearts4heart is supporting heart screening events across the country to help Australians understand their risk of heart valve disease. The screening events will be available to all members of the public at select hospitals in NSW and VIC from 26 February to 7 March. 

This Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, hearts4heart, along with patients, healthcare professionals and politicians are urging Australians to understand the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and speak with their GP about getting their heart checked. 

Prioritising your heart health is not just a precaution, it’s a proactive step in maintaining a good quality of life, ensuring that you can continue to enjoy the moments that matter most,” said Maria Vamvakinou MP Co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Heart and Stroke Foundations. 

It is important to speak to your GP today and ask for a stethoscope check. This simple action may save your life by detecting potential issues early and allowing for timely intervention and care,” said Senator Wendy Askew, Co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Heart and Stroke Foundations.  

If you are concerned about a friend or loved one who may be at risk of heart valve disease, or to access resources and information, visit www.hearts4heart.org.au  

-ENDS- 

About Hearts4heart

Hearts4heart is a non-profit organisation that supports, educates, and advocates for people with heart disease in Australia and New Zealand. Hearts4heart works to eliminate stroke and preventable deaths and improve the quality of life for patients and caregivers. 

Bringing together patients and healthcare professionals to reduce the burden of heart disease, hearts4heart provides targeted educational programs, resources, and services to improve diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life. To find out more visit www.hearts4heart.org.au  

 

About the YouGov research

The YouGov study HVD Awareness surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,023 Australians aged 18 years and older in between 23rd – 27th November 2023. The survey was conducted using an online survey administered to members of the YouGov Plc Australian panel of 71,000+ individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. After the survey's completion, the data was weighted by age, gender, and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates. 

 

References 

  1. Baker Institute. (2021). Our hidden ageing: time to listen to the heart.  
  1. Hearts4heart. (2023). Awareness of heart valve disease. [data on file]. 

  1. Global Heart Hub. (2021). Heart Valve Disease: working together to create a better patient journey. 


Contact details:

Kerry Jung – kerry@palin.com.au 0435 753 618 

Annabel Pender - annabel@palin.com.au 0420 797 363

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