Introduction Valvular heart disease (VHD) is poorly researched in comparison with other areas of cardiovascular disease. Principle limitations are the diverse nature of patients with VHD, inability to identify individuals at the earliest stages of disease and lack of an appropriate investigational infrastructure. Studies addressing the contemporary epidemiology and natural history of VHD are scarce but demonstrate an increasing prevalence in the elderly, associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Cohort studies in the USA are ongoing but there are no European or UK studies to date. We have developed a large scale, prospective community echocardiographic screening study within the adult Oxfordshire population, to determine the epidemiological characteristics of VHD in the UK for the first time, to assess the acceptability of echocardiographic screening for VHD, and establish cohorts with well-characterised genetic and echocardiographic phenotypes for future study. Herein, we present preliminary data for the first 1050 patients, with enrolment ongoing.
Methods Patients >65 years, registered with participating general practices (GP) and with no known VHD, were invited to attend their GP surgery where routine demographic and cardiac data were collected and a focused examination undertaken. Participants underwent a standard transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) according to British Society of Echocardiography guidelines. The threshold for inclusion in the screen positive group was deliberately low to capture all manifestations of VHD. Participants were given preliminary results, before completing a shortened Spielberger STAI questionnaire.
Results Uptake was 46% (age range 65–96 years; male to female ratio 1:1.1). VHD was detected in 33% of participants and prevalence increased with increasing age (see Abstract 165 figure 1). Mitral regurgitation and aortic regurgitation were the most common lesions detected (present in 17% and 14% respectively). The majority of VHD was graded as mild (84%); only 1% of VHD detected was severe. The majority of participants (99%) described themselves as calm or relaxed at the time of screening; none expressed significant levels of worry or tension. 98% would be prepared to undergo repeat echocardiography as screening for VHD.
Conclusions The prevalence of VHD in adults aged over 65 in the Oxfordshire population, using a low threshold for detection, is approximately 33% and increases with age. Mitral regurgitation is the most common lesion, and the majority of detected VHD is mild. Echocardiographic screening for VHD is feasible in the primary care setting and acceptable in this group of patients.
- valvular heart disease
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