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Your Healthy Family: Mick Jagger increases awareness of aortic stenosis

Posted at 10:49 AM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 12:53:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – A couple of weeks ago, ahead of Mick Jagger’s heart surgery, we talked about the possibility he would have what is called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure, or TAVR, to replace a failing heart valve.

Turns out Jagger did have a TAVR and is reportedly on the mend and set to return touring sometime this summer.

Dr. Peter Walinsky, senior director of cardiac and vascular surgery at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, says he was surprised that a commonly underdiagnosedheart condition that lead to Jagger’s TAVR procedure drew less attention than the procedure itself.

Dr. Walinsky says, “Heart valve disease is a significant public health problem.  It’s one of the most significant and one of the most underdiagnosed and undertreated deadly diseases there is.  If you get to be 70 years old, you have somewhere between an 8% and 12% chance of having significant heart valve disease.  If you have heart valve disease, it’s a major risk factor for death or complications when you have something else happen.”

What’s most alarming, says Dr. Walinsky, is the number of very sick people with heart valve disease who are not being treated.  “With aortic stenosis we’re only treating a third of the patients who have symptomatic severe aortic valve stenosis. That means 50% of those people will be dead in two years.  We can treat these people with an operation, either TAVR or surgical valves. A surgical aortic valve replacement in my hands, has a less than 1% operative mortality, and it’s similar with TAVR, it’s less than 2%.  So we have a deadly disease that can be treated with a less than 2% mortality rate, and yet we’re only treating a third of the people who have it.”

How would you know if you have undiagnosed heart valve disease?  Dr. Walinsky says it breaks down into a few categories and symptoms.  “People get into their 70’s, even 60’s or early 80’s and they think they’re just slowing down right? They are fatigued, they’re short of breath, they might have the occasional chest pain, they might be lightheaded.  Any of those things are easy to write off as age-related, and that is part of the reason it’s underdiagnosed.”

If those symptoms sound familiar, Dr. Walinsky says make sure you discuss them in detail with your doctor.

In our next story, we’ll tell you about a prestigious recognition UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central has received when it comes to heart care, and they are the only hospital in Colorado to earn this recognition.

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