Mairead McGuinness MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament has officially launched the first ever European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day at the European Parliament, Brussels tomorrow.

The Midlands North West MEP hosted a patient and stakeholder roundtable in collaboration with Irish heart and stroke charity Croí and other European patient groups.

Speaking in Brussels, Ms McGuinness said: "One in eight people over the age of 75 suffer from moderate to severe heart valve disease and this epidemic is expected to worsen with our ageing population. This event offers an opportunity to bring heart health patient groups from around Europe together to discuss the common impact of heart valve disease on patients and on society at large and what action can be taken for healthier ageing."

The creation of an annual European Heart Valve Disease day was a collaborative effort between Croí, represented in the European Parliament by their CEO, Neil Johnson, and MEP McGuinness.

Ms McGuinness added: “We need to work on initiatives that see our senior population as the solution to, rather than the problem of, demographic change. I am glad to support this initiative that was brought to me by Croí, because it focuses on addressing one of the major barriers to active ageing which is good health. As heart valve diseases affect so many people over the age of 60, positive political action is required to manage this disease, and empower our senior citizens.

“In 1958 in Ireland the average life expectancy in Ireland was 65 years old. Today 65 represents average age of retirement. European health policy today faces a problem unique to this millennium. While previous decades sought to tackle the high mortality rate caused by major cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases, the search for effective methods to preserve healthy life years will preoccupy the early decades of the 21st century."

Participants will discuss the ‘The Power of Positive Ageing’ manifesto which has been developed by a rapidly expanding group of European patient societies including Alliance du Cœur in France, Cuore Italia in Italy, Heart Valve Voice in the UK, AEPOVAC in Spain, Croí from Ireland, and Hart Volgers in the Netherlands. The groups aim to work with policy makers across Europe in order to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care related to heart valve disease.

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