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Dr Shelley Rahmen Haley

Tuesday 28th April 2015

Dr Shelley Rahman Haley, Heart Valve Voice Trustee, is a Consultant Cardiologist for the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust. She attended our event at Crewe Alexandra FC in 2015, and below she explains the importance of having a heart check.

Are you over 65? Are you feeling breathless, tired or are you experiencing chest pains? Then maybe it’s time you went to your GP to get your heart valves checked. Heart valve disease is a serious condition which can be fatal, but if diagnosed and treated in time you may live a full and active life. Unfortunately, nearly half of the one million people over the age of 65 in the UK who are affected with heart valve disease1 do not know about it and are unaware of the symptoms – often mistaking them for normal ageing – and thereby delaying diagnosis. This needs to change!

It is time to take action and minimise cases of late-presenting severe heart valve disease. This is exactly what we at Heart Valve Voice aim to do. Over the past year, we have worked hard to raise awareness among policymakers, health care professionals and most importantly, you, the public. Last Saturday, we marked yet another major milestone in Heart Valve Voice’s journey by holding our first, free public heart valve disease check-up event at Crewe Alexandra FC.

The event was held at the Alexandra FC stadium and included a stethoscope consultation with a GP and, where necessary, an echocardiogram with a cardiac consultant. In total we saw 33 people and 100s more fans went home with information about heart valve disease and Heart Valve Voice; increasing the number of people aware of the disease – one step at a time, as they say.

The amazing thing about football is that most fans stay loyal to their club for the whole of their lives and often family members support the same team. This makes a football club a great place to meet several generations of the same family who, when aware of potential health issues can, and will, encourage each other to seek help and visit their GP to get checked.

But why Crewe?

Heart Valve Voice is privileged to have support from Dario Gradi, former Crewe Alexandra FC Manager, as a founding member. Dario is a firm believer in our cause, as he himself was diagnosed with heart valve disease in 1993 and since then has had two valve replacement operations. Dario was unaware of his disease until he started having trouble climbing the club stairs due to breathlessness – he just thought he was a bit unfit – most unlikely, don’t you think?!

Dario and Crewe Alexandra FC were therefore delighted to support this event, and were a huge help in encouraging fans to come along and either be checked themselves or bring their relatives.

Are you interested in getting a free heart valve disease check-up? Well you may just get the chance. Stay tuned for updates on future events – we may be coming to a sports club near you!

1 Office for National Statistics. Available at: www.statistics.gov.uk. Accessed 24 April 2014.

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