Heart Valve Disease Awareness Act Passes Second Reading
Bill 66, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, would proclaim February 22nd as Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, and the second full week of September as Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week.
TORONTO – A Private Member’s Bill to raise awareness of heart valve disease, sponsored by Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, will proceed to public hearings, as it passed second reading in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly this afternoon, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
If passed, Bill 66, the Heart Valve Disease Awareness Act, would proclaim February 22nd as Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, and the second full week of September as Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week.
At least 1 in 40 Ontarians are living with heart valve disease, and the number is higher for seniors, reaching 1 in 8 Ontarians over the age of 75. Given Ontario’s aging population, the incidence of heart valve disease is increasing; the number of Ontarians living with heart valve disease is expected to double by 2040. Cardiologists describe this as the next epidemic of heart disease.
“When it’s detected early with a simple stethoscope check, heart valve disease is a very treatable condition – increasingly with only minimally invasive surgery,” said Cuzzetto, who had a bicuspid aortic valve replaced with a mechanical valve in 2009. “Heart valve repairs and replacements can significantly improve the length and quality of life for patients living with heart valve disease.”
Unfortunately, only about a quarter of adult Canadians (over 25) have had a stethoscope check within the past year, and this fell to only 19 per cent in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic – which was the lowest in Canada. Women are less likely to get a stethoscope check than Canadian men.
“Considering the risks of valve disease, and the burden we know it causes in our hospitals, we can, and we should be doing much better,“ said Cuzzetto, who noted that in France, over three quarters of visits to a general practitioner include a stethoscope check. “Without getting my heart checked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Once a date is set for Bill 66 to be discussed at the Standing Committee on Social Policy, members of the public may have an opportunity to attend, and make presentations on the bill.
“I’m really looking forward to public hearings on this bill,” said Cuzzetto, who also thanked the doctors who saved his life, including Dr. Linda Sabetti, Dr. Peter Fountas, and Dr. Christopher Feindel. “And I look forward to working together every February and September, to raise awareness about the risks and symptoms of heart valve disease, and to encourage everyone to get a stethoscope check. It saved my life; it could save yours.”
“I applaud Bill 66, and I hope all provinces and territories do the same. I see patients every day who live with this condition. How will an awareness day help them get better? It won’t, really. But there are things that we can do that can be life-changing, and reduce some of the pressure on the health system. Raising awareness of heart valve disease, promoting detection, through regular, and simple stethoscope checks, and identifying problems through regular check-ups, are things we can do.”
Dr. Michelle Graham, President of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society
“MPP Rudy Cuzzetto has been a tireless advocate for raising awareness of heart valve disease and we are so grateful. An Act to Proclaim Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day and Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week will bolster Heart Valve Voice Canada’s mission to raise awareness about heart valve disease. With Ontario’s population growing older, the burden of heart valve disease is on the rise and early detection can save lives.”
Ellen Ross, Managing Director of Heart Valve Voice Canada
“Valvular heart disease is the next cardiovascular epidemic, affecting millions of individuals worldwide and in Canada. Timely diagnosis and treatment can save lives. Listen to your heart.”
Dr. David Messika-Zeitoun, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
- Heart valve disease occurs when one of the four heart valves cannot open properly to allow blood flow or cannot close properly to prevent the backflow of blood.
- Many patients with heart valve disease experience shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, heart arrhythmia, dizziness, fainting, swelling of the ankles, feet or abdomen or difficulties sleeping flat due to cough or congestion, but others do not have any symptoms.
- The mortality rate in untreated severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis (the most common form of heart valve disease) is between 25 and 50% per year.
Office of Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP