IT COULD BE A SIGN OF HEART VALVE DISEASE
Your heart works hard every second of the day, pumping the necessary amount of blood throughout your body. The heart has four chambers and four valves that open and close to control the flow of blood in and out of your heart.
Your valves operate like oneway gates. They open to allow blood flow through your heart and out to your body.
They close to stop blood from flowing back into the heart after it has been expelled. The valves permit blood to flow in only one direction, or pathway, through your heart.
Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies go through physical changes which can cause disruptions in the blood from your heart to your body. This change can be due to a common condition called heart valve disease, when the valves do not work as they should, making it harder to pump blood around your body.
When Geoff, a 71-year-old from Perth started noticing his chest pains and difficulty walking down the street, he knew something could be wrong with his heart. He spoke to his cardiologist and was diagnosed with a heart valve disease called aortic stenosis.
There are 500-600,000 Australians living with a heart valve disease in 2022 with an estimated of 254,000 living undiagnosed with the disease. The first step to diagnosing heart valve disease, and making it to treatment like Geoff, is asking your GP to listen to your heart with a stethoscope. Look out for the signs of heart valve disease such as the below:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest Pain
• Lightheadedness, feeling dizzy, and/or faint
• Difficulty when exercising
• Swollen ankles and feet
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Because these symptoms can be a sign of a serious problem, it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as your experience symptoms, or if your symptoms worsen.
Heart valve disease is common amongst older Australians. If you are over the age of 65, ask your doctor to listen to your heart.