Age is the biggest risk factor
Heart valve disease can be congenital, meaning that a person can contract it at birth, or the disease can develop later in life due to damage from age-related calcification, other cardiovascular diseases and conditions, or infection. Age is the greatest risk factor with one in eight people aged 75 and older estimated to have moderate to severe heart valve disease.
Symptoms of heart valve disease
Many symptoms of heart valve disease develop gradually and patients often adapt their lifestyle in response to them or simply mistake their symptoms as being traits of aging. Symptoms of heart valve disease can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Reduced physical activity
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Feeling faint or fainting upon exertion
However, people with heart valve disease do not always display symptoms, even if their disease is severe. A clear indicator of valve disease can be the detection of a heart murmur. Most patients are diagnosed following a visit to their primary care professional who has listened to their heart with a stethoscope. If a murmur is detected, the patient will then be referred for an echocardiogram where they will receive a more accurate diagnosis.
Valve disease can be treated
For patients with severe aortic stenosis, their survival rate is as low as 50% at 2 years after the onset of symptoms and 20% at 5 years. A diseased valve can either be repaired or replaced by surgical or less invasive procedures. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate treatment.
Survival rates after the onset of symptoms
2 years after
5 years after