Feb. 22 marks the second annual National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day. I urge everyone to educate themselves on this common, yet little-known disease.

Heart valve disease (HVD) occurs when one or more heart valves do not work properly. This disease reduces blood flow, and can cause major health complications. Estimates show at least five million Americans fall victim to this disease, resulting in 25,000 deaths a year – an estimated 68 people per day. Individuals over the age of 75 are especially vulnerable to HVD, along with those who have experienced previous heart-related problems.

Yet nearly 75 percent of Americans have very little knowledge about HVD.

Fortunately, once detected, valve disease is usually treatable for patients of all ages. Visit www.ValveDisseaseDay.org to learn more. You never know when this information might help save a life.

Sue Peschin,

President and chief executive officer for the Alliance for Aging Research in Washington, D.C.

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