Feeling breathless? Dizzy? Fatigued? Don't assume it's your age, it could be your heart.
As we age, our bodies go through many physical changes. You may not be able to climb stairs as easily, or you may notice discomfort or inability to participate in normal daily activities. Sometimes, these changes may be signs of an underlying medical condition, such as aortic stenosis.
Aortic stenosis is one of the most common and serious heart valve diseases, affecting more than 7,000 older South Australians (Strange et al, 2019), many of whom are undiagnosed according to the Baker Institute of Heart and Diabetes 'Our Hidden Ageing: Time to listen to the Heart' report.
The aortic valve opens and closes allowing blood to flow through the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic stenosis occurs when calcium build-ups up on the valve, causing it to become stiff and narrow. This narrowing of the valve opening means the heart must work harder and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid fluttering heartbeat, dizziness or fainting.
Interventional Cardiologist, A/Prof Ajay Sinhal, from Flinders Medical Centre, said, "Many patients remain undiagnosed as they attribute masking their symptoms to getting older or being unfit,"
"As the severity of the disease worsens, patients may develop symptoms. It is very important if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you book an appointment with a GP and ask them to listen to your heart with a stethoscope."
Diagnosis of aortic stenosis starts with listening to the heart, but According to a 2020 Heart Health - Australia survey, diagnosis of aortic stenosis starts with listening to the heart. Four in 10 Australians say their doctor rarely or never checks their heart with a stethoscope, making the illness undetected, undiagnosed, and undertreated.
Dr Sinhal said, "The sooner aortic stenosis is identified, the sooner a patient can get the treatment they require. Seeing your GP is the first step to identifying aortic stenosis."
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