Washington, D.C., February 22, 2019 – The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), Inc., is proud to participate in National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day on February 22—an annual campaign to educate both patients and providers about the specific risks and symptoms of heart valve disease (HVD) and advocate for better access to life-saving treatment for communities of color.
This marks the third year the ABC has partnered with a coalition of organizations to engage in a live Twitter chat (at 1 p.m. EST), hosted by the Alliance for Aging Research and the American Heart Association (AHA). The ABC will join the Q&A session to shine a spotlight on the barriers that impact African-American and underserved heart valve disease patients and to disseminate critical information about heart valve disease risk factors, particularly for minorities – as these patients experience high mortality rates with low treatment rates.
“In many instances, valvular heart disease is treatable and at times can be treated through less invasive measures, says Oluseun Olukayode Alli, MD, Co-Chair for the ABC Structural Heart Disease Program and an interventional cardiologist at Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte.“It is critical that all of our patients are educated about the technologies that can save their lives, and, more importantly, do so in a manner that maintains their quality of life.”
Heart valve disease is a degenerative condition that involves damage to or improper functioning of one or more of the four valves that separate the chambers of the heart, either due to a narrowing of the valve (stenosis) or a leaky valve (regurgitation). While some types are not serious, other types such as aortic stenosis can lead to major complications—including death.
“When left untreated severe aortic stenosis has a 50% mortality,” says Aaron Horne, Jr., MD, MBA, MHS, a member on the ABC Board of Directors, the Co-Chair of the ABC Structural Heart Disease Program and a structural interventionalist at Heart & Vascular Specialists of North Hills. “African-Americans are underdiagnosed and undertreated for this disease. At the ABC, we are determined to educate patients about aortic stenosis in an attempt to level the playing field. Access to this information is important to bettering outcomes. For many patients, these procedures are recommended as a viable treatment by the AHA and American College of Cardiology (ACC). All patients, regardless of their demographics, should have access to the same evidence based data and treatment recommendations.”
As many as 11 million Americans have HVD and an estimated 25,000 people in the U.S. die from the disease each year. However, public awareness about it is incredibly low. A recent survey found that less than one in four adults know somewhat or a great deal about HVD, and 30 percent of respondents over age 65 say they know nothing about it.
The day’s theme, “Listen to Your Heart,” encourages our patients, families, and community to know their risk factors for HVD, listen to their hearts and get them checked regularly, and to know where to turn if they notice symptoms. More info about the condition and the campaign can be found at ValveDiseaseDay.org. The website also includes extensive resources about HVD that can help people learn about the disease and take follow up steps.
Awareness Day activities will be held across the nation on February 22, including the Twitter chat, which can be followed using hashtag #ValveDiseaseDay. For news and updates on the day’s activities, follow the Twitter handle @ValveDiseaseDay.
About the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC)
Founded in 1974, the ABC is a nonprofit organization with an international membership of more than 1,800 healthcare, lay professionals, corporate and institutional members. The ABC’s mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in Blacks and other minorities and to achieve health equity for all through the elimination of disparities. For more information on the Association of Black Cardiologists, visit http://www.abcardio.org.