Heart valve disease

Heart valve disease is a serious condition which can be fatal if left untreated, yet it tends to receive less attention than other cardiovascular diseases.


Prevalence of heart valve disease is growing rapidly and addressing the existing gaps in care is an urgent priority across Europe.

Heart valve disease is a debilitating condition that occurs when there are structural or functional abnormalities in one or more of the four valves in the heart. If heart valve disease is detected and treated in a timely manner, people can recover and enjoy good quality of life. But there are significant gaps in detection, diagnosis and access to treatment. Many people live with the disease undetected for several years or receive treatment too late, which can lead to premature death.

The optimal care pathway in heart valve disease is complex and resource-intensive, but the cost of not managing it effectively is far higher, in terms of both the burden on the individual and the financial cost to the system. People whose condition is not managed appropriately may have to endure prolonged hospital stays, admission to intensive care units, rehospitalisation and rehabilitation – not to mention avoidable ill health and poor quality of life.

As our populations age, prevalence of heart valve disease is rising – the number of people affected is estimated to double in the next two decades. Life-saving treatments are available, but in too many cases the disease continues to go undetected for too long. It is imperative that actions are taken now to address the gaps in care, to improve detection and access to treatment, and to reduce the debilitating impact of heart valve disease on people’s lives.

National adaptations

What we’ve achieved

In early 2020, the Global Heart Hub established a Heart Valve Disease Patient Council to bring a patient advocacy focus to heart valve disease. It then commissioned HPP to develop a report aiming to raise stakeholder awareness of heart valve disease across Europe.

We brought together a group of experts from across Europe to collaborate in the development of the report, which includes recommendations for action across the entire patient care pathway as well as at specific stages.

The report, Heart valve disease: working together to create a better patient journey, was published in December 2020, along with a visual summary translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. HPP also produced a video in which several of the contributing experts share their perspectives on the importance of working together to improve care for people with heart valve disease.

The launch of the project was supported by a social media campaign using the hashtag #ValvesAtHeart. HPP produced graphics and sample posts for social media, which were made available via the Global Heart Hub website.

In 2021, HPP was commissioned by Heart Valve Voice Canada to adapt the European report and report summary to the Canadian context. We have worked very closely with a Canadian expert advisory group and heart valve disease patients to ensure the report’s recommendations reflected the unique needs of Canadian health services and patients. Data on heart valve disease in Canada remain sparse, and we hope that this project will help to raise awareness and advance research in this area. Both the report and the summary were published in English and French.

In 2023, HPP worked with Initiative Herzklappe to adapt the European report to the German context. This version of the report has been published in German.

Key partners and stakeholders

European report authors:

  • Suzanne Wait, HPP
  • Pooja Krishnaswamy, HPP
  • Britt Borregaard, Odense University Hospital, Denmark
  • Jens Näumann, Initiative Herzklappe, Germany
  • Keith Pearce, Wythenshawe Hospital, UK
  • Marta Sitges, Cardiovascular Institute, Hospital Clinic Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
  • Neil Johnson, The Global Heart Hub and Croí, Ireland
  • Paul Nolan, Galway University Hospital, Saolta University Healthcare Group, Ireland
  • Ruggero De Paulis, European Hospital, Unicamillus University, Italy
  • Wil Woan, Heart Valve Voice, the Global Heart Hub Heart Valve Disease Patient Council, UK
  • Wojtek Wojakowski, Medical University of Silesia, Poland

The authors would like to thank the following experts for their contributions:

  • Bart Meuris, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium
  • Cormac O Dubhghaill, Harbour Medical Centre, Ireland
  • Matthew Fay, The Willows Medical Practice, UK
  • Rui Campante Teles, Hospital de Santa Cruz CHLO, Hospital da Luz, Portugal
  • William Wyns, The Lambe Institute for Translational Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
  • Christian Schaefer, International Self-Monitoring Association of Anticoagulated Patients (ISMAAP), Switzerland

Additional thanks to the members of the Global Heart Hub Heart Valve Disease Patient Council for their invaluable feedback and guidance.

For a full list of authors and contributors to the Canadian and German adaptations, please download the reports from the section further up this page.

Project funding

The European report was commissioned by the Global Heart Hub and written by The Health Policy Partnership, with co-authorship from an expert advisory group. The expert advisory group had full editorial control over content. The initiative was supported by a grant from Abbott, Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic.

The Canadian report was commissioned by Heart Valve Voice Canada and written by The Health Policy Partnership, with co-authorship from an advisory council, which had full editorial control over content. The initiative was supported by a grant from Abbott, Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic Canada.

The German report was commissioned by Initiative Herzklappe e.V. and written by The Health Policy Partnership, with co-authorship from Initiative Herzklappe e.V. and a multidisciplinary expert group.