Don’t be quick to disregard these potentially life-threatening signs.
Ageing is associated with an array of (often unwelcome) changes to our health and lifestyle and our older body may struggle to perform some of our daily activities. Because we’re aware that ageing makes life harder, there’s a tendency to blame getting older for every physical difficulty. But ageing isn’t always the culprit.
Some symptoms, such as breathlessness, fatigue and dizziness, could be signs of a serious heart condition called aortic stenosis. That’s the heart of the message that Hope For Hearts is sharing with our nation.
What is Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis (AS) is a serious and possibly life-threatening disease that affects many older Australians.
Aortic stenosis is defined as the ‘narrowing of the aortic valve opening’. As the aortic valve becomes narrower, it restricts adequate blood flow from the heart. That can lead to symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue and chest pain. Other associated symptoms may be light-headedness, dizziness and fainting, decreased exercise tolerance, swollen ankles and feet, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Over time, this hardening and closing of the aortic valve increasingly affect a patient’s ability to perform everyday tasks and their overall quality of life. Specialist interventional cardiologists (heart doctors) who work alongside the Hope For Hearts campaign note the significant impact this disease has on patients who gradually lose their independence and the increased burden on family and carers.
Many people are not familiar with this debilitating disease and its signs and symptoms. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 Australians has aortic stenosis and that up to 50% of patients who develop severe aortic stenosis could potentially die within 2 years. Many patients disregard these symptoms as simply ‘growing old’ whilst treatment options for this disease are readily available.
What is Hope For Hearts?
The Hope For Hearts campaign aims to help people re-think their acceptance of ageing to understand that breathlessness, fatigue and dizziness may actually be signs of cardiovascular disease that should not be dismissed.
We are aiming to increase the awareness amongst general practitioners and patients and families about the available treatment options for those who may have aortic stenosis.
Interventional Cardiologist, Associate Professor Martin Ng emphasises this point,
‘One of the problems about why this deadly, but very treatable condition, is being underdiagnosed and undertreated is the assumption that the shortness of breath is just part of ageing. It may not be.’
This is the essential message Hope For Hearts wants the broader community to hear.
We urge you to talk to your GP if you are experiencing any symptoms of aortic stenosis. Download our free checklist and TICK off if you have experienced any of the symptoms listed on the flyer. If you have, make an appointment, take the flyer and TALK to your GP.
Hope For Hearts is a national campaign that aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of the serious heart condition, aortic stenosis. We want to progress the knowledge of this condition for patients, general practitioners, and medical professionals to ultimately improve the outcomes for patients. Through more understanding of the disease, early detection and treatment can assist in saving the lives of Australians who may be suffering in deadly silence.
To find out more about our Hope For Hearts campaign, visit our website www.hopeforhearts.com.au. Additionally, if you are a physician or medical association and would like to contribute to the campaign or show your support, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.