MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Physicians at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute are encouraging members of the community to learn about heart valve disease and the importance of early detection as part of National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day on Feb. 22.

Heart valve disease involves damage to one or more of the heart’s four valves. While some types are not serious, others can lead to major complications, including heart failure and death. Each year, more than 25,000 people in the U.S. die from heart valve disease. Fortunately, heart valve disease can be successfully treated with valve repair or replacement in patients of all ages.

Despite the millions of Americans affected by heart valve disease, a recent survey found that three in four adults know little to nothing about valve disease. Although age is the greatest risk factor for heart valve disease, 30 percent of respondents over age 65 say they were not aware of valve disease.

Other risk factors include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Pain, tightness, or discomfort in the chest
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Decrease in exercise capacity
  • Swollen abdomen or ankles and feet

“As symptoms of heart valve disease may come on slowly, they are often dismissed as signs of normal aging or being out of shape. As a result, this may often go undetected through reduced awareness resulting in a potentially life-threatening problem. The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute is the state’s leader in the management of heart valve disease using innovative early detection and advanced minimally invasive techniques to treat our patients from every corner of West Virginia and beyond,” Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, said.

“The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute is proud to join the National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day campaign to encourage people to listen to their hearts. We want our community members to learn about their risk factors and to speak to their family physicians or cardiologists if they are experiencing symptoms. We are here for you.”

Those who are at risk of valve disease but are not already under the care of a cardiologist can schedule an appointment at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute by calling 855-WVU-CARE.

For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit