Heart valve disease on the increase – your doctor can help

Professor Tom Marwick urges over 65s to have a heart check-up.


“TAKE action and call your GP,” urges Coffs Harbour’s Dr Tanya Stewart, a Cardiologist at Mid North Coast Cardiac Services, as the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute launches a white paper on rising rates of undiagnosed heart valve disease.

The white paper warns and informs people that heart valve disease can go unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated with potentially life-threatening consequences.

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“If you’re over 65 years of age, ask your doctor to listen to your heart,” said Professor Tom Marwick,

Cardiologist, Director and Chief Executive, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Heart doctors issued this public health notice in a move to help curb the country’s rising rates of undiagnosed, but easily treated, heart valve disease – malfunctioning of one or more heart valves that disrupts blood flow through the heart.

Awareness amongst the community empowers people to call their doctor.

“Heart valve disease is easily detectable by your doctor and/or a cardiologist through a physical examination, all of which is readily available at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital,” said Dr Tanya Stewart.

“After diagnosis there are many effective and readily available treatments that are minimally invasive, with new technologies and new studies all the time.”

By asking your doctor to listen to your heart, early diagnosis is simple and then follows a repair, treatment and lifestyle protocol for living well.

“GPs are the lynchpin to patient diagnosis and treatment,” said Tanya.

More than half a million Australians are living with heart valve disease, while more than a quarter of a million Australians have faulty heart valves, and don’t know it.

“Patients are often asymptomatic, or they attribute their breathlessness to something else,” said Professor Tom Marwick.

A doctor or cardiologist examination is the white paper’s main message.

The number of undiagnosed cases of heart valve disease is projected to increase in the next three decades, to 435,000 in 2051, if community awareness doesn’t grow.




Over 65s called to ask their doctor to listen to their heart.

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