Dr Yassir Javaid: Recognising and Addressing Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease

Published On: 10 May 2024Categories: Blog, News

As a clinician who works across primary and secondary care, I’ve encountered countless patients whose lives have been significantly impacted by heart valve disease. Recognising the symptoms early on and seeking timely medical attention can make a huge impact in managing this condition effectively and ensuring optimal outcomes. It is essential we empower people with the knowledge and tools to recognise symptoms, communicate effectively with their GP, and take proactive steps towards diagnosis and timely treatment.

Recognising Symptoms

Heart valve disease can manifest in various ways, often depending on the specific valve affected and the severity of the condition. However, there are common symptoms which may include:

– Increased shortness of breath, especially during physical activity

– Lightheadedness during physical activity

– Excessive fatigue or weakness, even with minimal exertion

– Chest pain or palpitations

Many people who experience these symptoms perceive them as “feeling older than their age” or “weariness.” It’s essential to pay attention to these symptoms not only for yourself but also for your loved ones, as they may not always recognise or communicate their discomfort.

If you or a loved one experiences any of the aforementioned symptoms, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with your GP promptly. Early detection and intervention can significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for individuals with heart valve disease.

Communicating Symptoms Effectively

When visiting your GP, clear communication is key. Be prepared to describe your symptoms in detail, including when they started, how often they occur, and any factors that exacerbate or alleviate them. Keep a symptom diary, noting the time and circumstances surrounding each episode. Heart Valve Voice developed an excellent Symptom Tracker, which empowers people to keep a log of how and when their symptoms occur, as well as tracking their progress over time.

Providing Relevant Information to Your GP

To ensure a timely and accurate diagnosis, it’s essential to provide your GP with all relevant information, including:

  • Any pre-existing medical conditions
  • Medications you’re currently taking
  • Family history of heart disease or valve disorders
  • Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking habits

By equipping your GP with this comprehensive information, you empower them to make informed decisions regarding your care.

Opportunities to Recognise Symptoms

Heart valve disease can often go unnoticed in its early stages, as symptoms may be subtle or attributed to other causes. However, routine health checks, such as annual check-ups or blood pressure measurements, provide valuable opportunities for early detection. Additionally, individuals with risk factors such as a family history of heart disease or a previous history of rheumatic fever should remain vigilant and proactive in monitoring their cardiovascular health.

Healthy ageing is an important part of all of our lives, and regular exercise empowers you with opportunities to monitor your general health. If you’re out walking and start to notice things are becoming more challenging, or you’re struggling to catch your breath, that could be a sign that something is wrong, and you need to react promptly. But equally, it can be an everyday activity at home that just starts to get harder and harder. That simple flight of stairs you’ve climbed so many times all of a sudden feels like a mountain. It’s important to think critically about your physical health and don’t make excuses for changes. If your heart is telling you something – listen!

Recognising and addressing symptoms of heart valve disease requires proactive participation from both patients and healthcare providers. By staying informed, communicating effectively, and seeking timely medical attention, we can work together to improve outcomes and enhance the quality of life for those affected by this condition. Remember, your heart health matters and early intervention can make a world of difference.

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