The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), Inc. participated in this month’s National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day (Feb. 22), an annual campaign to inform 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).
“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, NC. “It is critical that all of our patients become knowledgeable about the technologies that can save their lives, and, more importantly, do so in a manner that maintains their quality of life.”
HVD is a degenerative condition which involves a damaged valve that disrupts blood flow by not opening or closing properly. While some types are not serious, other types such as aortic stenosis (AS) can lead to major complications—including death.
“When left untreated, severe aortic stenosis has a 50-percent mortality rate,” said Dr. Aaron Horne, Jr., a member on the ABC Board of Directors, the co-chair of the ABC Structural Heart Disease Program and a structural internationalist at Heart & Vascular Specialists of North Hills in North Richland Hills, Texas. “African-Americans are underdiagnosed and undertreated for this disease. At the ABC, we are determined to educate patients about AS in an attempt to level the playing field. Access to this information is important to bettering outcomes. All patients, regardless of their demographics, should have access to the same evidence-based data and treatment recommendations.”
The ABC reports that 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, 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,” encouraged 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 can be found at ValveDiseaseDay.org.
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 ABC and its other advocacy efforts for the campaign, visit http://www.abcardio.org.