“How Common Is Heart Valve Disease Among Seniors?” Asks Heidi

I just received a great question from Heidi about heart valve disease, surgery and seniors.

She writes, “Adam – My mom, Betty, has recently been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. Although her murmur was detected years ago, I never thought she would need open heart surgery. She’s 68 but acts like she’s 38. No symptoms at all. I’m curious… How common is valve disease and surgery among seniors? Thanks, Heidi”

Seniors With Heart Valve Disease

 

Considering the aging of the population, I imagine Heidi’s question will be on the minds of many sons and daughters in the near future. Interestingly enough, I was just reading a market research report summary by GlobalData which suggests that:

  • The incidence of valve disease in people over the age of 65 is 29%
  • The incidence of valve disease in people over the age of 75 is 37%

According to the report, valve calcification and degeneration have become the leading causes of valvular disease (e.g. aortic stenosis) instead of congenital bicuspid disease.


Calcified Heart Valve Leaflets

Please note that this research report did not differentiate between “incidence of valve disease” and “incidence of valvular surgery”. That said, I think it is very safe to assume that the actual rate of surgery among the senior population is much, much, much less… for now.

As you may have seen, recent research from the University of Michigan suggests that up to 50% of patients diagnosed with conditions including aortic stenosis and mitral valve regurgitation were not referred for treatment.

In review of these datapoints, it is appropriate to say that valve disease is fairly common among seniors and that the rate of surgery is likely to increase in the future – especially considering minimally invasive approaches to heart valve surgery.


Calcium Deposits On Bicuspid Aortic Valve (Aortic Stenosis)

Thanks to medical advances, we are living longer lives. However, it appears that human heart valves may need to evolve faster to counter the degenerative forces (calcium build-up) which cause valve disease. That said, I believe this is one more reason to consider heart valve surgery a “medical miracle”.

I hope this helped Heidi (and perhaps you) learn more about heart valve disease and seniors.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Joyce Ann Edmondson

    Would you find one article or comment on the relationship between faulty valves and the ascending or descending aorta. I have an enlarged ascending aorta requiring surgery, but they are not sure of the valve involvement, but guess that it will be needed based on a heart murmur. Do the two often go together?

  • Joyce Ann Edmondson

    Would you find one article or comment on the relationship between faulty valves and the ascending or descending aorta. I have an enlarged ascending aorta requiring surgery, but they are not sure of the valve involvement, but guess that it will be needed based on a heart murmur. Do the two often go together?

  • Joan Parkinson

    Hi
    Heidi, I am sure your grandmother would object to being called a “senior”. We active 68 year old’s might concede to ‘middle aged” at best.
    I had my aortic valve replace in January of 2009. I did not have symptoms, however the valve was closed to .7cm and I was told that soon I would experience some of the many symptoms: shortness of breath, angina pain or dizziness.
    I met with the surgeon Dr. K. Teo in December, after discussing our lifestyle, lots of travelling – and by the way did I say I ride a Harley.
    The one BIG symptom that hadn’t been discussed until that point was – you just pass out. Not something anyone wants to have happen to them at any time, especially riding a motorcycle.
    I decided to go for the surgery.
    It would be great if your grandmother could wait until the use of Kryptonite (see Adam’s previous blog) to close up the chest if available. That is the biggest part of the recovery. Good luck to her. Joan

  • Adam Pick

    Joan,

    When I reach 68, I look forward to mirroring your thoughts on age. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Keep on tickin!

    Adam

  • Sylvia Woolworth

    Heidi,
    Your mom, Betty, sound like me. They had been watching my severe aortic stenosis for a few years. I also had a very loud heart murmur, but NO symptoms. Since my arteries were fine, they decided they could do minimally invasive aortic valve surgery with a scar of four inches. Research a good surgeon and discuss the procedure with the Doctor. Prepare for your surgery by getting in the best physical condition and go for it. I am 74 years young and my surgery was done April 09, and I was back in the pool in July, working up to my routine of water exercise classes and swimming four days a week.

  • Nancy Evans

    Heidi:
    I just had a valve repair and the Maze procedure and am also an active 68 year old. I can’t even believe how fast I’m recovering. I was off all pain meds by 2 weeks after the surgery and now, almost 3 weeks after surger, am walking 20 minutes at a time.

    The fact that your mother is active, I bet she will recover very very fast. I think the key is picking an excellent surgeon and following all the doctor’s directions.

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