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The Big Blue Bus that could save your life stops in Newcastle

Cardiologists from Freeman Hospital and UK initiative, Valve for Life, will be offering FREE heart checks on a heart bus in an attempt to find people who could be unaware that they have heart valve disease. In the UK as many as one in 10 (10%) people aged over 75 years have Heart Valve Disease. There are an estimated 200,000 people living in the UK with aortic stenosis, the most dangerous form of heart valve disease.

On Monday 18th September the ‘Your Heart Matters Bus’ will be on Northumberland Street North (Opposite Haymarket Metro), Newcastle from 10am to 3pm.

The bus will be offering five-minute stethoscope checks – which is a simple and easy way to check for heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease affects approximately 1.5 million people in the UK. Patients experience fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or loss of consciousness. If left untreated, severe aortic stenosis, the most common form of heart valve disease, is fatal within two years of diagnosis. The symptoms of heart valve disease may not be immediately obvious. It is estimated that it kills 4 times as many people as COVID-19 in a year. However, once treated patients can return to a good quality of life, largely free of symptoms.

It is only during an in-person appointment that a GP can have that quick listen to the chest of an older person and then refer the patient for echocardiogram. This means far fewer heart valve diseases will be picked up. There are conditions with high fatality rates, such as aortic stenosis, where 50% patients will die within two tears if left untreated.

Dr Jonathan Byrne, Interventional Cardiologist at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust and Director of the UK Valve for Life programme said: “The bus has seen thousands of people with remarkable results. On average, we are detecting a cardiac condition in about 12% of people who have a stethoscope check.

On the day, anyone who is diagnosed with a heart murmur or irregular pulse will be given a letter to share with their GP for further investigations.

A face-to-face stethoscope examination remains the most straightforward method to detect the key characteristic associated with valve disease – a heart murmur. This condition, if left untreated, can have life-threatening consequences.”

Professor Raj Das, Consultant in Coronary and Structural Intervention, Freeman Hospital comments: “The touring buses have helped educate the nation on the symptoms of heart valve disease and the potential benefits of heart valve treatment. It has shone a spotlight on the condition, improved peoples understanding of it and saved many lives. I’m very hopeful we will raise a lot more awareness in the North East on Monday. The bus will be in Newcastle and we will have cardiologists and nurses on board all day.”

Robert Fowler, 87, who visited the bus when it stopped in Leeds last summer said: “I visited the bus in Leeds and after having some heart checks I was given a GP letter by the staff there and was referred to my local cardiology team. I needed to have a heart procedure called TAVI (a newer alternative to open heart surgery). I had the procedure on 3rd February and I’ve since been checked over and my readings look good. I’m doing daily exercises, taking days out with my wife and no funny turns. I feel so lucky, as had I not got on the bus my heart problem could have got a lot worse, like a stroke or heart attack. I would urge anyone to visit the bus – you might find something that could save your life.”

Early detection of heart conditions is crucial as not all patients display symptoms, often attributing them to ageing or decreased fitness. The Your Heart Matters bus has successfully diagnosed approximately 1 in 10 patients with previously undetected heart conditions, enabling them to receive vital treatment. The Valve For Life initiative is dedicated to enhancing access to minimally invasive 'key-hole' therapies for heart valve disease, with the ultimate goal of saving lives and improving patient outcomes. By focusing on expanding availability and improving accessibility, to ensure that more individuals can benefit from these life-saving and life-changing treatments.

To find out more about the Your Heart Matters Bus, please visit:

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