February 22 is Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day and is dedicated to increasing awareness of the risks associated with the disease, as well as identifying symptoms to assist in early detection and intervention.
The heart contains four valves, and all are subject to various disease processes. According to the CDC, more than eight million Americans have valvular disease, and roughly 28,000 people die each year from untreated disease. It is important to talk with your primary care provider (PCP) if you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur, as that is sometimes the only clue that a patient has valve disease. Murmurs are often innocent, meaning they are not an indicator of disease, but different sounds can be identified and associated with valvular disease.
If you have been diagnosed with a murmur, and/or experiencing:
• Increased fatigue
• A decrease in your ability to do chores or hobbies
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• A sensation of feeling faint
• Swollen feet or ankles
• Fluttering in your chest
• Chest pain
Talk to your PCP and see if they recommend an echocardiogram – ultrasound of your heart – and a referral to cardiology for further evaluation.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of valvular disease, feel free to call 605.755.4300 to ask for more information from our structural heart team.