Tuesday 16th February 2021
At the beginning of February, Heart Valve Voice launched our 100,000 Conversations campaign. We aim to start 100,000 conversations about the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease - and start a national conversation about this common, serious, but treatable condition.
The 100,000 Conversations campaign came from years of listening to patients' talk about their heart valve disease experience. Many of the patients we speak to first had their symptoms noticed by someone else, telling us that the often gradual decline in their health was hard to recognise. Family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues are pivotal parts of heart valve disease journeys, and we need to make sure that we are looking out for one another’s health. Heart valve disease detection needs to be a national effort, and we need to make sure that if we see symptoms of breathlessness, dizziness or fatigue in anyone, we think valve disease.
Despite the prevalence of the disease, awareness remains critically low, so by starting 100,000 Conversations, we will get the country thinking valve disease, and that will save lives.
To kick off the campaign, we were delighted to have valve disease patient and Chair of the APPG for Heart Valve Disease, Steve McCabe MP, invite Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth MP, to #TalkValveDisease. You can watch their conversation here.
I was encouraged to see the Shadow Health Secretary speak with such passion and enthusiasm for change, recognising the need for regular stethoscope checks, improved access to transcatheter therapies, and heart valve disease to be a national priority.
This kind of intervention from senior policymakers is now more critical than ever. With COVID-19 causing disruptions to treatment, there is an increasing unmet need of heart valve disease treatments that will need to be at the forefront of the NHS’s post-covid response. As we see infections decrease and the vaccination rolls out, we need to ensure that, when the time is right, there is a significant increase in referrals and valve disease treatments to ensure valve disease patients are treated in their optimum treatment window.
I was encouraged to see £1 billion of funding earmarked for cardiac services in a recent letter from NHS Director Simon Stevens. We need to ensure that heart valve disease is at the front of policymakers thinking, so all those living with valve disease in the community can get the treatment they need and return to giving back to their families, communities and the economy.
Our 100,000 Conversations campaign will start a national conversation about heart valve disease. And this kind of grassroots campaigning inevitably filters it’s way up to the policymakers, so I urge everyone to go out and start a conversation about heart valve disease today - because the more talk about heart valve disease, the more lives we will save.