LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Valvular heart disease is affecting more and more American's, mostly due to the increasing age of our population, and the most common valvular condition is called aortic valve stenosis.
What may seem like symptoms of old age might be caused by something else. Turns out, that constant feeling of being out of shape and out of breath could be a type of valvular heart disease.
"Aortic stenosis is the most common valvular heart disease in the developed world in adults. Typically, a disease that's associated with advancing age," Dr. Steven Miller, cardiothoracic surgeon at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, said.
Dr. Miller says aortic stenosis happens when the aortic valve in the heart narrows and becomes tight and leaky, making the heart work too hard to pump blood efficiently. Over time, the heart becomes weak and damaged.
"Most patients with severe aortic stenosis, if you ask them enough questions and really press them, they will tell you things like they've just been slowing down over a period of a year or two. They can't do what they used to do. They get short of breath with exertion," Dr. Miller said.
Sufferers tend to be over the age of 65. The disease can be diagnosed as mild, moderate or severe. According to Dr. Miller, people with severe aortic stenosis are at risk for developing chest pain, or passing out, and even heart failure.
"Once patients develop symptoms of aortic stenosis, the average survival is about 50 percent at two years," Dr. Miller said.
Dr. Miller says the most effective treatment is surgery to replace the aortic valve, and the earlier it's diagnosed and treated…the better.
"We're actually finding that patients who are so called asymptomatic patients actually do better with aortic valve replacement than those who wait until symptoms develop," Dr. Miller said.
So, if you're over the age of 65, it's important to be aware of your risks for valvular heart disease and talk with your doctor about them. Dr. Miller says treating patients before the disease advances can improve chances of survival and quality of life.
In other Heart Month news, mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings, which will be held on Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center. The free screening includes an electrocardiogram, heart risk assessment, waist circumference, height, weight and body mass test. For only $20, you can receive lab tests that include your A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol and triglycerides. To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.
Another Good Hearted Woman luncheon will be held on Friday, March 4, at noon in the Oakwood Conference Center. The cost is $5 and cardiologist Dr. Ronald Woodson will be speaking about women and heart disease. To make a reservation, call 580-585-5406.