Heart warning as 300,000 people in UK have ‘deadly’ condition – symptoms to look out for

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Hundreds of thousands of Brits over the age of 55 could be at risk of dying from a deadly heart disease, one study has suggested. There is concern the condition may put strain on the NHS

A new study may be tough news for the NHS
A new study may be tough news for the NHS

One study has estimated that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK could be affected by a deadly condition.

The ailment affects people’s hearts and could have serious consequences if it is not treated, but it is difficult to detect.

Unseen medical problems can place a burden on the NHS, particularly as people get older and the health service faces a constant battle against an aging population.

The heart condition looked at in the study could potentially kill 40,000 Brits in the next five years.

So what is it and why is it a problem?

What is aortic stenosis?

The difference between a normal aortic valve and a stenotic valve
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Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The study looked at the medical condition of ‘aortic stenosis’.

Of the condition, Heart.org said: “Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening. Aortic stenosis restricts the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta and may also affect the pressure in the left atrium.”

In simpler terms, calcium build up over time can narrow the aortic valve, which the heart uses to pump blood through a person’s body.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis

Symptoms of the condition should not be ignored

It is important to note that this can sometimes be a silent problem as symptoms of aortic stenosis either may not appear or are not taken notice of as they do not seem too out of the ordinary.

However, people should note that there is still a clear list of symptoms associated with the disease that may raise alarm bells.

Symptoms include:

  • chest pain
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed, even fainting
  • Difficulty walking short distances
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Difficulty sleeping or needing to sleep sitting up
  • Decline in activity level or reduced ability to do normal activities

How many people have aortic stenosis?

The study estimates a huge number of people may have the condition
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A combined team of researchers from the University of Glasgow, researchers from NHS England, the University of Southampton and the University of Notre Dame Australia estimated that 291,448 people over the age of 55 in the UK could have the condition.

The team, which also featured cardiologists and surgeons in Manchester, Sheffield and Edinburgh, said the high volume of patients is “largely driven by an aging postwar population cohort, we estimate that close to 300,000 adults are currently living with this potentially deadly condition at any one time.”

The study, published in the journal Open Heart, looked into the condition to work out how much of a burden it could be on the NHS.

“In conclusion, this study suggests that severe AS [aortic stenosis] is a common condition affecting many individuals within the UK population aged over 55 years,” they went on. “Without appropriate detection and intervention, their survival prospects are likely to be poor.”

The estimated that certain age groups are more likely to have a severe form of aortic stenosis.

They are:

  • 70-74-year-olds – 1.2%
  • 65-69-year-olds – 0.7%
  • 60-64-year-olds – 0.5%
  • 55-59-year-olds – 0.4%

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to specifically estimate the treatable burden of disease associated with severe, symptomatic AS [aortic stenosis] within the UK population.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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