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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

The next cardiac epidemic: Cardiologists and Edwards Lifesciences sound the alarm

Health Industry Hub | April 8, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Newly unveiled Australian data showcased at the American College of Cardiology congress uncovers a disconcerting lack of community awareness and urgency regarding the leading contributor to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, heart valve disease.

Commissioned by Edwards Lifesciences, a population survey conducted by YouGov surveyed 1,041 individuals aged 60 and above to gauge their awareness of aortic stenosis, comprehension of heart valve disease, and the frequency of stethoscope examinations conducted by general practitioners (GPs).

Professor David Playford, Head of Cardiology at The University of Notre Dame in Perth, said “To prevent symptom and disease progression, untimely death, or sudden deterioration requiring hospital admission, a timely diagnosis of heart valve disease (HVD) is essential. Fortunately, signs of HVD – even before symptoms develop – can be detected by performing a simple auscultation examination to assess for heart murmur, during a routine GP visit.”

Alarmingly, a mere 14% of the 1,041 Australian participants aged 60+ in the survey deemed heart valve disease a significant health worry, with just 17% demonstrating an understanding of disease. Moreover, a substantial portion of the survey population (42%) indicated that their GP seldom or never listened to their heart during medical consultations.

In a recent interview with Health Industry Hub, Tanya Hall, CEO of hearts4heart and Professor Dion Stub, Interventional Cardiologist at the Alfred Hospital and Western Health in Melbourne, referred to heart valve disease as ‘the next cardiac epidemic’.

“We see the same stubborn one in three patients with major valvular heart disease that are being missed,” stated Professor Stub, underscoring that this statistic holds true not only for Australia but also for other nations.

“Transcatheter procedures represent a revolution in our approach to aortic stenosis. I expect over the next 5 to 10 years that will extend to other valve conditions,” Professor Stub noted.

The government has committed to a temporary extension to Medicare-subsidised Heart Health Checks until 30 June 2025.

“We know regular heart health checks for people aged 60 years and above may help to achieve an early heart valve disease diagnosis, while increased treatment would contribute to a substantial reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality,” said Professor Playford.

Without timely intervention, severe symptomatic aortic stenosis (a type of heart valve disease) may cause death within two years, with the chance of survival without aortic valve replacement at only 50% in two years, and just 20% at 5 years.

The Heart Foundation is calling for a targeted heart disease screening program to tackle Australia’s biggest killer.

Highlighting the success of existing screening programs for chronic diseases, including some cancers, Natalie Raffoul, Heart Foundation Healthcare Programs Manager, emphasised the need for similar initiatives in tackling heart disease.

“It’s now time to establish one for heart disease so we can more seriously address a disease that is tragically our nation’s leading cause of death,” she stressed.

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