Letters: Listen to your heart

Does your doctor listen to your heart every time you visit? Even the faintest murmurs heard through a stethoscope can be a sign of heart valve disease. A condition affecting more than 11 million Americans, heart valve disease happens when one or more of the heart’s four valves are damaged. Other common symptoms can include lightheadedness, chest pain, tiredness, edema, or feeling “off” in general — but these symptoms are too often shrugged off. However, shrugging it off can be life-threatening. Undiagnosed heart valve disease kills more than 25,000 people a year, and most deaths are entirely preventable.

That’s why heart checks are so critical. Older age is the most common risk factor for developing heart valve disease, and those with a history of heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure and/or cancer are at especially high risk as they age. And, because these risk factors are more prevalent in younger Black Americans, heart valve disease detection in communities of color deserves more attention throughout the lifespan than is currently recognized.

Timing is everything, and we are glad February is both American Heart Month and Black History Month. On Feb. 22, 119 organizations around the world will mark Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day to advocate for equitable early detection and treatment of this serious disease.

The first step is to Listen to Your Heart! Schedule an appointment to get a stethoscope check and visit ValveDiseaseDay.org to learn more. Then, help us spread awareness by posting your picture on your favorite social media using the #ListentoYourHeart and #ValveDisease Day hashtags. Together, we will improve detection and treatment and ultimately save lives.

Lindsay Clarke

Senior vice president of health education and advocacy

Alliance for Aging Research

Washington, D.C.

Square dance

article praised

We would like to thank you for printing the article that Frank Jimenez wrote regarding the square dance activity in the Rio Grande Valley. Frank interviewed as many dancers as he could and listened to what they had to say. Not only Frank’s article but the pictures that Denise Cathey took of the dancers highlighted our passions. She took lots of pictures to capture the essence of the activity.

Through square dancing, we dancers can go anywhere and dance with strangers, and after the dance become fast friends whom we see again at some state festivals and conventions the world over, let alone next week at the same or different dance.

As dancers in the Rio Grande Valley, we come from all over the United States, but most are from the Midwest from Texas north to Michigan and even into Canada, so as we regroup in the fall to start our season it is like one giant family reunion.

Thank you again for getting the word out about one of the best kept secrets.

Georgine and Ron Woolcock

Round Dance Cuers