Monday 21st September 2015

Today marks 55 years since Dr. Albert Starr, a young cardiac surgeon from Oregon in the United States, conducted the world’s first successful heart valve replacement on a patient with heart valve disease. In 1960 the replacement was hailed as “miraculous” by experts, today every two minutes someone in the world benefits from a valve replacement or repair.

Ben Bridgewater, Cardiac Surgeon, University Hospital of South Manchester, and the Chair of Heart Valve Voice commented, “Many people up and down the UK have benefited from Dr. Starr’s pioneering achievement on that day back in 1960. The introduction of heart valve replacement has meant the condition, that if left untreated has serious consequences, can now be treated by a relatively routine operation.”

Rates of heart valve replacement in the UK are however well behind other European countries, with France conducting replacements at double the rate of the UK. In addition access to heart valve replacement across the UK varies depending on where you live. Heart Valve Voice is working to address this issue by, raising awareness of heart valve disease symptoms amongst the general public and promoting the need for NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to produce treatment and management guidelines on the disease. In addition the charity encourages GPs to use their stethoscopes systematically on patients over the age of 65 to diagnose heart valve disease, to enable patients to access treatment sooner.