Ontario’s COVID-19 Surgery Backlog a Priority for Heart Valve Voice Canada on World Heart Day

Toronto, CANADA

TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On World Heart Day, Heart Valve Voice (HVV) Canada is shining a light on the over 148,0001 procedures that have been postponed during the pandemic in Ontario alone, and the importance of advocating for your health if you’re experiencing new or worsened symptoms associated with cardiac conditions.

At the outset of the pandemic, health care systems and their hospitals were directed to postpone elective and non-urgent surgeries in order to preserve hospital space in case of COVID-19 case influxes. Among the many patients impacted by these delays are those with Aortic Stenosis, the most common form of heart valve disease in the adult population. Aortic Stenosis is moderate to severe in 1 in 8 adults over the age of 75 and symptoms can develop rapidly and worsen over time. Without appropriate treatment, 50% of patients are likely to die within two years – a timeline that becomes grim for Canadians facing a growing backlog and increased wait times.

Compounding the issue of delayed treatment is ability to quickly access appropriate care. Individuals in the HVV Canada network have shared their concerns about the increased barriers faced in getting the medical attention they need, including closed clinics, clinics with reduced hours, extensive wait times, and the fear of visiting their doctor or hospitals during COVID. Still, it is crucial that patients with or experiencing symptoms of heart valve disease seek immediate care.

“Time is most definitely of the essence when it comes to treating cardiac conditions, especially heart valve disease,” commented Dr. Charles Peniston, Cardiologist and Cardiothoracic Surgery Specialist, Chair of HVV’s Board of Directors. “As we see with cases like sudden heart attacks, individuals don’t often experience signs or symptoms of cardiac issues with time to spare. We urge patients and families to listen to their hearts and seek medical care if you experience the onset or worsening symptoms associated with heart valve disease.”

On World Heart Day, HVV Canada encourages everyone to pay close attention to the symptoms of heart valve disease such as shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and fatigue, and immediately seek medical attention if they’re experiencing any of them. The non-profit also continues to call on health care systems across the country to prioritize surgeries that are most urgent as they address the backlog – including heart valve replacement and repair surgeries, along with other life-saving cardiac procedures.

About World Heart Day
World Heart Day was created by the World Heart Federation and aims to inform people around the globe that cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death claiming 17.9 million lives each year. World Heart Day aims to educate people about controlling risk factors as at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.

About Heart Valve Voice Canada
Heart Valve Voice Canada is a non-profit patient advocacy organization that works to improve the health and quality of life of people living with heart valve disease. They advocate for increased and early diagnosis, timely access to appropriate treatment, removal of barriers to receiving that diagnosis and treatment, and ensuring meaningful support systems for those affected by heart valve disease. Their advocacy network includes patients and their support systems, a multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals, and other cardiac and patient advocacy and service organizations.

Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease is when one or more of your heart valves become diseased or damaged, affecting the way that blood flows through your heart. Aortic stenosis is a form of heart valve disease, most often developed due to age-related degeneration or hardening (calcification) of the aortic valve, leading to progressive narrowing (stenosis) – changes which compromise valve function and impair normal blood flow through the heart. The symptoms of aortic stenosis are chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, light-headedness, fainting and difficulty exercising.

Media Contact
Colleen Ryan, Secretariat Support

1 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/early/2020/09/01/cmaj.201521.full.pdf