Patients with heart valve disease face high costs and health risks. They also suffer from worry and confusion about available treatments – and which treatment might be most appropriate.
Despite the severity and potentially fatal consequences of heart valve disease, a mere 44% of patients receive a diagnosis, and only 34% undergo treatment. A poorly coordinated health care system leaves many with more questions than answers, even as new treatments emerge. And even though the rate of heart valve disease is expected to double by 2040, few Americans understand the risks of heart valve disease as compared to other cardiovascular diseases.
“Wait and Watch” No Longer Works
Clinicians have long adhered to the notion that open-heart surgery – for decades, the sole treatment option for heart valve disease – introduced immediate risk of death. As a result, care for heart valve patients typically took a “wait and see” approach.
Recent treatment advancements, however, have rendered this approach outdated. Minimally invasive valve repair and replacement procedures, for example, have sparked a transformation in care quality that prioritizes a patient-centered, up-to-date approach.
Another care advancement that bears promise of improved health outcomes for heart valve patients is proactive screening. One study found that 90% of heart valve patients who were proactively screened were properly diagnosed. Ninety-five percent of surveyed patients also said they were either “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their outcomes.
Expanding access to new, less invasive treatments, along with ramped up screening, could modernize treatment for the growing population of people living with heart valve disease.
Heart Valve Disease at a Glance
Heart valve disease is common, affecting about 2.5% of Americans and 13% of people over age 80. It can cost $10,000 or more per patient in direct care every year and is the leading cause of cardiovascular death. Yet the disease is treatable.
Minimally invasive options are now available that may lessen the need for open-heart surgeries. Guidelines, however, still do not reflect new these treatment developments. To make a difference in care for patients, that must be changed, and patients must be properly empowered to talk about these options with their provider.
In short, heart valve disease is more treatable than ever before — but only if diagnosed and addressed promptly with up-to-date treatment options. As heart valve disease enters a new era, patients need early detection, minimally invasive intervention and personalized care.