Sometimes symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue can be more than just signs of getting older. They could be an indication of heart valve disease. The most common type of heart valve disease in people over 65 is aortic stenosis.
It is a progressive disease, which means it will get worse over time and this can be life-threatening.1
Aortic Stenosis – what is it?
Aortic Stenosis or AS is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems. In AS the aortic valve no longer opens fully meaning it is much harder for your heart to pump blood through the valve and around your body and the valve can get narrower over time meaning your heart has to work harder and harder.
AS more commonly develops during aging as calcium or scarring damages the valve and restricts the amount of blood flowing through.2 And this can happen slowly over time so people don’t always notice.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis may include:
- Chest pain
- Rapid, fluttering heartbeat
- Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
- Decline in activity level or reduced ability to do normal activities
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed, even fainting
- Difficulty walking short distances
- Swollen ankles or feet
- Difficulty sleeping or needing to sleep sitting up
Who’s most at risk?
AS usually begins at the age of 60, but often doesn’t show up until the ages 70 or 80.2
Annual heart check-up
It’s important if you’re over 65 to get annual heart check-ups with your GP. You may attribute some symptoms to growing older or you may not notice warning signs of . AS symptoms can come on slowly over a long period of time and gone unnoticed and untreated it can be life threatening.
The good news is that if AS is picked up early it can be fixed, and with a valve replacement you can make a full recovery and get back to normal life.
If you’re over 65 ask to your doctor to listen to your heart, so you can get back to doing what you love more easily.
Visit listentoyourheart.co.nz for more information before you visit.