Friday 3rd September 2021

This week, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) released the 2021 revisions to their clinical practice guidelines for the management of valvular heart disease.

"I welcome the revisions to the guidelines, and the strength of the language around patient input, shared decision making and asymptomatic patients.

At Heart Valve Voice, active patient involvement is at the heart of everything we do. We know that patients are more informed than ever, and their appetite to be part of the decision-making process around treatment is stronger than ever.

For me, the guidelines’ focus on a “patient-centred approach” is welcomed, and I echo their commitment to choices on treatment being a shared decision between a multidisciplinary Heart Team and an informed patient. In addition, the guidelines commitment to supporting patients to be “informed and assisted in their decision on the best treatment option” is something we all strive toward.

Equally, the approach to asymptomatic patients is welcomed. The commitment to exercise testing to “unmask the objective occurrence of symptoms in patients who claim to be asymptomatic” will undoubtedly lead to better diagnosis of heart valve disease.

We know that many patients mask symptoms, or mistake them as signs of ageing, and exercise testing is a practical way to ensure effective diagnosis of severity of a patients heart valve disease. This commitment will lead to better diagnosis, earlier treatment, and no doubt lead to better outcomes for heart valve disease patients.

Along with Global Heart Hub's ‘Towards a Heart Healthy Future Report’ and Heart Valve Voice's 'Gold Standard of Care', these guidelines provide a blueprint for better valve disease care, and we welcome their publication.

Consultant Cardiologist Professor Bernard Prendergast said, "Listening to the hard work of patient organisations like Heart Valve Voice enables us as clinicians to hear what’s important to patients, and we can reflect that in guidelines. In the ESC Guidelines, we want to empower Heart Teams to share decision-making with patients. Heart Valve Voice can work as a conduit to that process by empowering patients with the information to support their Heart Team. Then every patient gets the right treatment for them at the right time."

Now, Heart Valve Voice commit to working as a conduit to ESC and EACTS to help deliver the adoption of the guidelines and continue our work empowering patients with the information they need to be active parts of their pathway."

Former National Clinical Director for Heart Disease at NHS England, and Chair of Heart Valve Voice's Clinical Advisory Panel, Professor Huon Gray, said, "I am pleased to see the revisions to these guidelines continue to strengthen the relationship between Heart Team and patient. Heart Valve Voice and its Clinical Advisory Panel will continue to support this relationship and will work to ensure that patients receive the information they need to help them make decisions about their care.