Wednesday 10th May 2017
Dave Smith, Consultant Cardiologist, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, shares why raising awareness of heart valve disease is important to him.
A significant percentage of our population in the UK is made up of older people, in fact, about 5% of the UK population is over the age of 85. In Wales, where I practice, this margin is much larger with 11.7% of the population over the age of 85. As a medical professional who specialises in cardiac care, this presents a number of unique and complicated issues when it comes to providing my patients with the correct diagnosis and treatment.
One area that is of particular interest to me and to my friends at Heart Valve Voice is the issue of heart valve disease and it’s lack of awareness amongst our ageing population. In Wales, we have poor public awareness, poor access to treatments and long waiting lists and times. This means that we cannot help as many people as we would like to get them diagnosed and treated for heart valve disease. I am hoping that by joining my friends on this cycle to the EuroPCR conference in Paris, we will be helping to draw attention to importance of being aware of the disease and of getting regular stethoscope checks from clinicians.
What I really want is for the older population in Wales to be knowledgeable about what the symptoms of heart valve disease are and that they need to tell their GP or nurse when they begin to notice these symptoms. The symptoms include breathlessness, dizziness, feeling sluggish, having difficulty performing their usual activities and feeling ‘old’. If we can spread the word that these aren’t simply the results of getting older and could in fact be signs of potential valve disease I believe we could help and treat people who have the potential of having a new lease on their life. Have a look at Heart Valve Voice symptoms tracker here.
I’ve got my stethoscope with me on this cycle ride to show people how a simple check can potentially change a life. Like Heart Valve Voice says, the more we listen the more lives we save!