Publication date: April 2012 Review date: April 2014
Heart valve disease or valvular heart disease is the name given to problems with one or more of the heart’s four valves. In a heart which is working normally, valves keep blood flowing in the right direction and entering or leaving the heart’s chambers only at the right time. Heart valve disease can develop before birth, in which case it is called ‘congenital’. It can also be caused by the effects of certain infections, such as rheumatic fever, or by age-related “wear and tear”.
Symptoms of heart valve disease vary from person to person, and are usually not obvious until the disease is quite advanced and needs medical or surgical treatment. This means we do not know how many people are living with heart valve disease without realising they have it, or what happens to them in the longer term.
We interviewed 18 people who were taking part in a new research study which is screening people aged over 65 to find out how common heart valve disease is. 7 of these people were interviewed a second time after they had been for a follow up appointment. At present, screening for heart valve disease is not available to everyone throughout the UK.
In this Healthtalkonline section people discuss what it was like to be involved, the reasons they took part, the information they needed, and how they felt about their screening results. There are accounts from people who had normal results, as well as people who were told they mild heart valve disease, who were invited for follow up. Browse through the ‘Full list of topics’ on the left side of the screen or select from the key topics below.