Primary Care Heart Valve Disease

Across the UK approximately 1.5 million people over 65 years of age are currently affected by heart valve disease, with the OxVALVE Study (d’Arcy J et al., Eur Heart J 2016) predicting that numbers will more than double to 3.3 million by 2056. There is significant regional disparity in terms of referrals and treatment rates across the country and as such, there is urgent need for more equality for patients to have better access to these life-changing treatments.

Heart Valve Voice is a charity run by a group of multi-disciplinary experts in the field of heart valve disease, including patients, cardiac surgeons, cardiologists and GPs. Heart Valve Voice aims to address the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of people with heart valve disease in the UK by raising awareness of the disease and delivering up-to-date evidence-based guidance to ensure patients receive the right treatment at the right time.

Early identification and referral are essential for patients with heart valve disease since the condition is associated with significant rates of morbidity and mortality if it is not treated appropriately or in a timely manner.

Many patients with heart valve disease initially present to their primary care professional with  the  telltale symptoms or they may be identified incidentally after a routine stethoscope examination. The aim of the Heart Valve Voice webinar programme over the coming months is to disseminate guidance about the key symptoms and methods of detection for primary care and to offer practical advice on the diagnosis and referral of patients with heart valve disease.

In the UK there are vast geographical variations in the rates of access to the treatment options for valve disease that are not explained by demographic factors. Barriers to referral and treatment for heart valve disease exist at all levels within the NHS, but most patients are likely to first seek help for their symptoms in primary care. Early detection of heart valve disease enables timely treatment and could be lifesaving.

Auscultation is used routinely in less than two-fifths of patients whose symptoms suggest heart valve disease (Heart Valve Voice: Heart Valve Survey 2017). Chris Arden, GP and GPSI Cardiology and Editor for PCCJ explains that “we need to use our stethoscopes more often to check for heart valve disease when an older patient reports symptoms, and potentially consider using this basic investigation during routine consultations with our elderly patients. Once identified, patients with suspected heart valve disease should be referred appropriately for further confirmation of the diagnosis and consideration of treatment through echocardiography.”

Webinar Programme

Topic One: Primary Care Guidance on Heart Valve Disease

Led by Chris Arden, GP and GPSI Cardiology and Editor for PCCJ

Date and Time: 8th September 2018 - 8.30am & 4.30pm

Description: To celebrate European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day two Primary Care webinars will take place to raise awareness of the current guidelines about the diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease.

Topic Two: The Gold Standard of Care for heart valve disease patients 

Led by Chris Arden, GP and GPSI Cardiology and Editor for PCCJ

Date and Time: 8th November - Time TBD

Description: Activities around World Heart Month

Topic Three: Listening to Heart Sounds 

Led by Yassir Javaid, GP, Primary Care Cardiovascular Lead, East Midlands Strategic Clinical Network

Date and Time: 1st February 2019 - Time TBD

Description: Activities around World Heart Month

Topic Four: Innovative Treatments for valve disease patients

Led by Matt Fay, GP and PwSI Cardiology

Date and Time: 8th February 2019 - Time TBD

Description: Activities around World Heart Month

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