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Patient Organisations from Across Europe Meet in Brussels to Present Their European Heart Valve Disease Partnership Manifesto to MEPs

September 04, 2018

BRUSSELS, 4 September 2018 - Patient organisations dedicated to helping raise awareness of heart valve disease, from France, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and the UK will be meeting with Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in Brussels to launch their European Heart Valve Disease Partnership Manifesto ahead of the first ever European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day.

Heart valve disease, a condition where the heart valves no longer work properly, affects over 10 million people over 65 years of age throughout Europe. The main types of heart valve disease are valve regurgitation and valve stenosis. Regurgitation occurs when the valve fails to close properly, and blood flows the wrong way. This condition includes aortic, mitral and tricuspid regurgitation. Stenosis is the narrowing or blocking of the valves which in turn limits blood flow and makes the heart work harder. Heart valve disease most commonly associated with aortic and mitral stenosis.

The European Heart Valve Disease Partnership Manifesto has been put together by Aliiance du Coeur, AEPOVAC, Hart Volgars, Cuore Italia, Croi and Heart Valve Voice UK, patient organisations from across Europe committed to helping to spread the word about the need for the timely diagnosis and treatment for heart valve disease. The manifesto brings together new evidence and data on heart valve disease services across Europe, which demonstrates the need for change. It also sets out recommendations that are crucial to the improvement of the diagnosis, treatment and care for patients with heart valve disease.

The report which is the basis for the upcoming first ever European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day launching on 8 September in London also sets out the core calls to action of the initiative – the four A’s:

  • Awareness – of the signs, symptoms and diagnosis of heart valve disease
  • Ask – for over 65’s to have the right to ask for a stethoscope check at least once a year
  • Action – for set guidelines with a clear pathway from diagnosis to treatment
  • Access – for equal access for all to heart valve disease therapies which provide the best and most rapid return to a good quality of life.

“With Europe’s ageing population, and the increased risk of developing heart valve disease with age means that we are going to see a steep rise in the number of cases in the coming years,” said Mr Chris Young, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Guys and St Thomas’ and Chairman of Heart Valve Voice UK. “We must work to set in place protocols across all levels of the healthcare systems across Europe to make sure that these patients are not slipping through the net and are diagnosed early and reach the appropriate secondary care team for treatment. This in turn will provide patients with a longer, better quality of life and also reduce the long-term cost burden on healthcare systems across the continent.”

A lack of public awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease and the severity of the condition has also contributed under-diagnosis and under-treatment of patients from all over Europe. Unfortunately, heart valve disease isn’t well understood or well known by the general public. Aortic stenosis is the most common form and, in Europe, only 3.8% of over 60s know what it is. This is why the European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day based on the European Heart Valve Disease Manifesto is so important.

The Partner organisations involved in producing the European Heart Valve Disease Partnership Manifesto will be presenting their document to Members of European Parliament on 4 September in Brussels along with Mairead McGuinness, MEP who will be hosting the presentation. The day will focus on educating the MEPs about the need for more action to be taken around heart valve disease, the need for more awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease amongst the general public and the need for improved care and services for patients throughout Europe.

“By increasing awareness of heart valve disease throughout Europe amongst the target demographic of over 65s, we will ensure that more people are getting the proper heart health checks when they need them,” said Bernard Prendergast, Consultant Cardiologist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London and Director of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Research (PCR). “The European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day has some brilliant patient organisations behind it who are working together to ensure that patients all over the continent have access to life-saving treatment regardless of age and comorbidities.”

View the manifesto here.