New study reveals 2-in-3 Australians are unaware of heart valve disease, described as ‘the next cardiac epidemic’


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  • Heart valve disease affects more than half a million Australians. If left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and stroke.1

  • More than a quarter of a million Australians are unaware they are living with heart valve disease.1 This number is projected to grow to 336,000 in 2031 and 435,000 in 2051.1

  • Over a quarter (28%) of all Australians have never heard of heart valve disease and its impact and challenges.2

  • Leading charity, hearts4heart, proudly supports free heart screening events in select hospitals across NSW and VIC.

Monday, 26 February 2024, Sydney, Australia

Leading charity, hearts4heart, has commissioned new Australian research, revealing a concerning lack of awareness of the impact and symptoms of heart valve disease – a condition that can lead to heart failure and stroke.

Heart valve disease is a serious and common condition where one or more of the valves in the heart do not open or close properly, which can lead to problems with blood flow.3

More than half a million Australians have heart valve disease yet findings from the latest study revealed that only one third (33%) of all Australians are aware of the disease and its impact and challenges.2 This includes those who are living with the disease (3%), know someone personally who is living or has lived with the disease (14%), or are aware of it but don’t know anyone living with it (16%).2

Common symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and dizziness, can often be dismissed and attributed to old age. Concerningly, some people with heart valve disease do not show symptoms or have no symptoms for many years, even if their disease is severe, all of which can make diagnosis difficult.3

“If left undetected and untreated, heart valve disease can damage the heart’s valves and lead to heart failure, stroke, and an irregular heartbeat. These complications can have a significant toll on people’s quality of life and can also result in avoidable deaths,” said hearts4heart CEO and founder Tanya Hall.

“However, if heart valve disease is diagnosed early, it is treatable, and people with the disease can live a full and happy life, which is why during Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week, we are amplifying our efforts to ensure all Australians have the condition front of mind.”

A simple stethoscope check to identify a heart murmur can help to detect heart valve disease, which can lead to an earlier diagnosis, reduce the risk of complications and enhance quality of life.

“In too many cases the illness is undetected, undiagnosed, untreated, or treated too late. If left untreated, certain patients with aortic valve disease, with symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, can die within 2 years of diagnosis, a prognosis that is worse than most cancers,” said Professor Dion Stub of Monash University and Interventional Cardiologist, Alfred Health.

As part of Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week 2024, hearts4heart is supporting heart screening events across the country to help Australians understand their risk of heart valve disease. The screening events will be available to all members of the public at select hospitals in NSW and VIC from 26 February to 7 March.

/Public Release.