DALLAS (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Heart Association will launch a fully interactive valvular disease patient education center thanks to a grant from The Edwards Lifesciences Fund. The donor-advised fund will award $1.2 million to the American Heart Association over the next four years to support the development of a comprehensive online portal offering support and education tools to those suffering from valvular diseases, their families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
"This website has the opportunity to help educate and change the lives of patients and their caregivers in a very unique way," commented Donna Arnett, Ph. D., President of the American Heart Association and Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We thank The Edwards Lifesciences Fund for giving us the opportunity to advance such an extensive website that will offer to the public for the very first time cutting-edge information and forums for patient interaction on valvular diseases."
Roughly 1.8 million Google searches are performed per month using valvular disease related words. This is in addition to the 2.2 million+ Google general search term "heart disease."  Given the prevalence of valvular disease and its high internet search frequency, the American Heart Association approached Edwards Lifesciences when it realized the unmet need for extensive education on the varying types of valvular disease including aortic valve disease, mitral valve prolapse, pulmonary valve disease and tricuspid valve disease. The website could comprise various elements such as visual illustrations, interactive animations, healthy lifestyle information, current and future treatment options, interactive quizzes, interactive expert and patient Q-and-A and blog sections, and a video series.
"As the prevalence of valvular disease grows and patients become more involved in their treatment journey, we need to ensure they have comprehensive resources available to help them understand and pursue their path to a higher quality of life," said Michael A. Mussallem, Edwards Lifesciences' chairman and CEO. "We are enthusiastic supporters of the American Heart Association and its goal of developing the number-one digital resource for valvular disease patients, their families and caregivers -- patients need it."
The first phase of the valvular disease patient education website is slated to launch in April 2013. For more information on valvular disease, and other cardiovascular conditions, visit www.heart.org/conditions.
 (Source: Google AdWords, November 2011)