Sometimes symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue or just struggling to keep up with grandkids/friends 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-threatening1, this is why it’s important to intervene as soon as it is detected.
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.3
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 symptoms don’t show up4 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. Annual check-ups could include blood tests and blood pressure checks, but also make sure they use a stethoscope to listen to your heart as this is the only way to tell if you have heart valve disease.
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.
So, if you’re over 65 ask your doctor to listen to your heart, so you can get back to doing what you love more easily and never missing a beat.
Visit listentoyourheart.co.nz for more information before you visit.