bib sade! WhatYou Should Know Abouteart Valve Disease (NAPS)—Evenserious cases ofheart valve disease can occur without symptoms or go unnoticed or be mistaken for other conditions because symptoms developslowly. One Man's Story Al Ridgely figured his increasing shortnessof breath andlagging stamina were symptoms of his emphysema and getting older, until a fainting episode led doctors to discover he was oneofthe 2.5 percent of Americans with heart valve disease (VD). Feb. 22 is national eart Valve Awareness Day and the American eart Association is working to raise awareness about the symptoms, risks and treatments for the condition, in which one or more ofthe heart valves have Recognizing risks and symptoms, and following up with health care providers, are crucial for treating heart valve disease, advises Romeatbeen damaged,disrupting blood flow by rius Moss, DNP, RN. not opening orclosing properly. VD becomesmoreprevalent with age,affect- with serious VD, may have no symp- Ridgely, who is from Traverse City, change very slowly overtime or come ingonein 10 adults age 75 and older. Michigan, underwent open-heart surgery to repair both his mitral andtricuspid valves and encouragesothers to talk to their health care providers about any health changes, rather than just assume it is part of aging. “Tt never entered my mind that I could have heart disease” said Ridgely, whois now 83. “As I get older, it can be hard to recognize what's aging and what's something moreserious.” Advice From A ealth Care Practitioner Romeatrius Moss, DNP, RN, an AA toms, while others have symptoms that on quickly. Symptoms canincludechest painorpalpitations, shortnessof breath, fatigue, weakness orinability to maintain regularactivity level, light-headednessorloss of consciousness, or swollen ankles,feet or abdomen. In addition to age, risk factors for VDinclude a history of rheumatic fever or infective endocarditis, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia,or pre- vious heartvalve conditions from birth, called congenitalheart defects. Those previously diagnosed with a making lifestyle changes are crucial for heart murmur, mitral valve prolapse or other mild form of VD should maintain regular checkupswith a health care African Americans, wherethe diseaseis should the condition worsen overtime, volunteer, said understanding VD and protecting heart health, especially in moreprevalent. “In the black community, we need to understand what ourrisks are andfollow up with necessary testing,” said Dr. Moss, founder, president and chiefexec- utive of Black Nurses Rock,the nation’s largest minority nursing association. While VD is relatively common, three out of four Americans reported knowing little to nothing about the condition, andsix in 10 heartvalve patients didn't have or didn't recognize their symptoms,according to surveysreleased provider and watch for any changes Dr. Mosssaid. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur as a child, but didn't realize it could pose significant health risks until a physical for the Air Force revealed she hadmitralvalve prolapse. Thirteen years Jater, Dr. Mossgets regular checkups with herhealth care provider and watches for signs that her condition may be wors- ening. She also exercises regularly and watchesherdiet to minimizeherrisks. “Know your body and know how can often be successfully treated either you can protect yourself; Moss said. “Sometimes, patients have to lead this discussion and as nurses wetry to help ourpatients advocate for themselves.” ever, an estimated 25,000 people die For further fact about heart valve bythe Alliance for Aging Research. Medical advancements mean VD through repair or replacement; how- from the condition eachyear. According to the American eart Association, some people, even those Learn More disease, including risk factors, symp- toms andtreatment, visit wwwiheart. org/heartvalves.