1 in 8 elderly Australians are currently living with aortic stenosis – a potentially disabling and deadly disease – yet 8 out of 10 Australians over 60 are unaware of this disease.1,2 This world heart day, take control of your heart health, learn more about aortic stenosis and have your GP listen to your heart.
Your heart works hard every second of the day, pumping the necessary amount of blood throughout your body. It has four valves that play an important role in the process, one of which is called the aortic valve.3 The aortic valve has thin leaflets that open and close when the heart beats. Sometimes, the leaflefts of the aortic valve become stiff making it harder to pump blood around your body. This condition is called aortic stenosis.4
Aortic stenosis is a progressive disease and is defined by mild, moderate, and severe aortic stenosis. In the mild and moderate stages of aortic stenosis, the decrease in blood flow is usually not significant enough to cause outward symptoms and may only have the disease picked up due to a routine heart check. In the severe state, patients often feel a little short of breath or a bit dizzy and just assume it’s getting a little older. Unfortunately, this might not be the case. When aortic stenosis reaches the severe state, the risk of heart failure increases significantly, and the outlook is poor if left untreated. Current estimates show that there are over 60,000 Australians living with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, but only around 10% of them are receiving treatment each year.5 Many of these patients are living with the disease without even knowing it.
If you are over the age of 65, ask your GP for a simple stethoscope check this World Heart Day and feel confident in your heart health.