Heart Valve Awareness Day 2021
Christine is a volunteer with the American Heart Association’s Heart Valve Ambassador Program and shares her story to help raise awareness. She wrote this blog in honor of Valve Disease Day, February 22.
"3 out of 4 American's know little to nothing about heart valve disease, yet 11 Million American's are affected by heart valve disease." Heart Valve Awareness Day is important to me because, Knowledge is Power! Education surrounding this often underdiagnosed disease is vital when it comes to matters of the heart. Valve disease can be, at times, asymptomatic and can be deadly if the warning signs are ignored.
Heart valve issues are very oftentimes confused with the everyday stresses of life. such as overall fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadness and palpitations. While as women, our first reaction is to ignore and shrug off any symptoms that present themselves. However, we must be our own advocate. We must "Listen to our hearts" and seek professional medical advice if something does not feel quite right. Timing is essential to operating, as a repair to your own valve is much more advantageous than a replacement. This is why a personal commitment to follow up appointments is vital to surviving heart disease if you or a loved one are diagnosed.
In order to learn more and become empowered about heart valve disease for yourself or a loved one, I would encourage turning to About Heart Valves | American Heart Association website. The Education Center offers a wealth of resources on valvular heart disease including digital tools, animations, videos, patient stories and printable resources. I would also recommend the heartvalve website Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day | Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day (valvediseaseday.org) to explore the resources that are available to help recognize specific risk factors and symptoms of heart valve disease, improve detection and treatment and ways to become involved.
Finally, I would also share that support and encouragement are available if you or a loved one are newly diagnosed. https://supportnetwork.heart.org/ This platform provides a place for patients, families and caregivers to give and receive support, improve their own health and using your voice to impact the lives of others. By joining, you will be able to interact with our heart valve ambassadors and communicate with other members who are going through their own journeys. Most importantly, I would like to share that YOU are NOT ALONE! The medical professionals tell you what they will do medically, but it’s the survivors that can help you understand what it takes to be a heart warrior.
Giving a voice to heart valve disease is essential to raise awareness for this often times, silent but deadly disease. As an Ambassador, I am honored to participate in 5th Annual Heart Valve Awareness Day. As I have come to know, heart disease affects 1 in 3 women, and it most certainly does not discriminate.
When followed carefully by expert medical staff, with treatment timed right, women with heart valve disease can lead normal active lives. I have found that I can maintain my vigorous lifestyle and not be destined to a life of limitations.