Urgent warning as 300,000 Britons live with a stealthy disease that could kill people within 5 years

Doctors have warned around 300,000 Britons are living with a stealth disease that could kill them within five years.

One-third of them are likely not aware they are affected because they do not show obvious symptoms.

The heart condition is afflicting around 300,000 Britons - 100,000 have no idea, the researchers estimate.


The heart condition is afflicting around 300,000 Britons – 100,000 have no idea, the researchers estimate.Credit: Getty – Contributor
Symptoms of aortic stenosis, when it manifests


Symptoms of aortic stenosis, when it manifests

Aortic stenosis, or AS, is a heart condition that often has no symptoms until it’s too late.

This condition is when the heart’s aortic valve narrows, reducing or blocking the flow of blood from the heart into the main artery to the body.aorta).

This can cause chest pain, dizziness, fatigue or heart palpitations, in more severe cases and life-threatening.

Some people are more susceptible to it, including those who are older, have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart condition from birth.

Given the aging of the UK population, it is thought that there could be a large group of people who have not been diagnosed.

Researchers in the UK and Australia have estimated how many people can currently live with the condition, and of those, how many are at risk of death.

They did this using population data and previous estimates of the prevalence of aortic stenosis.

By their calculations, the incidence of severe aortic stenosis in people over 55 in the UK in 2019 could be close to 1.5% – or about 300,000 people at a time.

Just under 200,000 (68%) are symptomatic – meaning they have a serious illness that qualifies for surgery.

The remaining 90,000 people (32%) have a “silent” case of the condition and will likely go undiagnosed unless they are being screened for another problem.

It is estimated that without prompt treatment, up to 172,859 people (59% of the total) will die within the next 5 years to 2024.

This equates to 35,000 people a year, according to the results published in the journal Open Heart.

Nearly 10,000 of these people will die between the ages of 55-64.

The NHS says that people with mild aortic stenosis are followed up every year or two.

If symptoms become severe, they will likely need surgery to prevent the condition from getting worse, leading to heart failure or sudden cardiac death.

Research has found that people with severe aortic stenosis who are not treated with surgery have a 25% risk of dying within the first year after symptoms begin. The risk is 50% in the second year.

The researchers, led by Geoffrey Strange, a cardiologist at the Royal Alfred Hospital, Sydney, said: “In conclusion, this study demonstrates the severity of [aortic stenosis] is a common condition affecting many individuals in the UK population aged 55 [and older].

“Without proper detection and intervention, their survival prospects may be poor.”

Researchers fear the NHS will not be able to cope with the wave of older adults with aortic disease over the next few years.

Symptoms of coarctation of the aorta

Many people with coarctation of the aorta do not experience noticeable symptoms until the restricted blood flow becomes significantly reduced.

Symptoms of coarctation of the aorta may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heart rate, fluttering
  • Shortness of breath or feeling short of breath
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed, even fainting
  • Difficulty walking short distances
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Difficulty sleeping or having to get up when sleeping
  • Decreased activity level or reduced ability to perform normal activities
I am the first patient to receive a pig heart transplant – ‘shot in the dark’ could save my life Urgent warning as 300,000 Britons live with a stealthy disease that could kill people within 5 years

Emma Bowman

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