Heart Valve Voice has joined forces with Brentford FC to raise awareness of heart valve disease by offering free heart check-ups at its Championship League home game against Burton Albion on Saturday 10 December. Fans will have the opportunity to get their heart health checked at Griffin Park before the 3pm kick-off. The check-up event is one of three taking place across the UK as part of the charity’s National Football #TackleValveDisease campaign.
This important initiative follows the launch of the charity’s 2020 Vision Report, entitled ‘Towards a Heart Healthy Future: a 2020 Vision for Heart Valve Disease’ at a parliamentary event earlier this month. The report sets out recommendations to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of heart valve disease.
“We are delighted to be supporting Heart Valve Voice with their launch of the Tackle Valve Disease Programme to raise awareness of this underdiagnosed condition amongst the football community,” commented Cliff Crown, Chairman of Brentford Football Club. “We hope our fans and members of the local community will take the opportunity to come to the ground to have their hearts checked and learn more about the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease.”
Heart valve disease is a common, but treatable, heart condition where the heart valves no longer work properly. When the valves are diseased it can rapidly affect the pumping action of blood around the body. However, many patients do not suffer severe or visible symptoms, or put their symptoms (breathlessness, fatigue and chest pains) down to the natural ageing process, making diagnosis difficult. Approximately 1.5 million people over the age of 65 are currently affected by the condition, and this figure is expected to rise to 3.3 million by 2056.
“Heart valve disease affects a high proportion of the UK population, yet it’s worrying that there are such low levels of awareness of the condition and its signs and symptoms across the country” commented Matt Stride, Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine and Brentford Football Club Doctor. “I would encourage anyone concerned about symptoms such as breathlessness, feeling tired and chest pains, to have your heart listened to at our Tackle Valve Disease check-up event.”
Heart specialists will conduct check-ups by listening to people’s hearts with a stethoscope. A simple stethoscope check can detect a characteristic heart ‘murmur’, which can be the first indication of a problem with the heart valves. If a murmur is detected a follow up echocardiogram test is usually recommended to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to diagnose early as, if severe aortic stenosis (a type of valve disease) is left untreated, half of those patients will die within two years of developing symptoms.
“Stethoscope examination is an effective way of detecting heart murmurs that may be associated with heart valve disease. By providing fans and their families with the opportunity to have their hearts listened to, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of a simple stethoscope check to highlight the possibility of heart valve disease; the more we listen the more we detect and therefore the more we potentially save lives,” said Dr Yassir Javaid, GP Northampton and PULSE’s past ‘GP of the Year’. “I would encourage anyone concerned about symptoms of heart valve disease to get their heart checked out.”
Awareness of heart valve disease is worryingly low. A recent survey of over 60s, conducted by the charity, revealed that 94% of people do not know what the most common form of the disease, aortic stenosis, is. In addition, almost three quarters of people say their doctor rarely or never checks their heart with a stethoscope, despite this being one of the first steps to detect heart valve disease.
Wil Woan, CEO of Heart Valve Voice said, “We aim to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of heart valve disease by raising awareness of its severity and the need for timely detection, and sport provides a great platform to engage with and educate people. By tackling valve disease head on and taking action, we can really make a difference to people’s lives. The more we listen, the more lives we save.”
Check-ups will be taking place outside the stadium from 1.30pm on Saturday 10 December. If you would like to come along for an over 55s heart valve check-up at Brentford, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be booked in, or speak with one of our volunteers on the day.
Please also show your support for those with heart valve disease by giving your voice on the Heart Valve Voice website.