Rise in valvular heart disease due to increase in life expectancy

Added 14/12/2010

Stethoscope

Life expectancy is rising and with that, cases of valvular heart disease are on the increase. But reports have suggested that Britain isn’t prepared for the number of valvular heart disease cases that will crop up as people grow older.

Valvular heart disease often affects people over the age of 75, and it is sometimes treated using surgery to replace old valves. There has already been a distinct rise in valve surgery, and some UK surgeons have commented that the procedure takes up around 40% of their time.

Some studies suggest that people with valvular heart disease are receiving treatment too late. When a patient has advanced valvular heart disease, the surgery they undergo might not be as effective as it could be.

A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation commented on the necessity of adequate facilities for patients with valvular heart disease: "It is well established that patients with all types of heart disease have a better chance of survival and quality of life when managed by an expert cardiological team. It is essential that all hospitals maintain and indeed expand their expert cardiac services over the coming years to avoid the financial and health costs of not dealing with the changing pattern of heart disease in an expert and timely manner."

Common symptoms of valvular heart disease include being out of breath, swelling of the ankles and feet and being unusually tired. If you suspect you might have valvular heart disease, visit your GP immediately.