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Almost 300,000 people in Britain could have a potentially deadly heart valve disease, a new study suggests.

The NHS would struggle to cope with the sheer number of people needing treatment for this over the next few years, with the number set to rise further, the researchers warned.

The authors went on to estimate that more than 172,000 ( 59 % ) who have the disease will 'die within five years without proactive management '.

Their study, published in the journal Open Heart, estimated that in the UK in 2019 there were 291,448 men and women aged 55 and over with severe aortic stenosis.

Aortic stenosis is a heart valve disease which carries a high death rate if left untreated.

This means it can no longer open fully, reducing or blocking blood flow from the heart into the aorta and to the rest of the body.

Study co-author Dr Geoffrey Strange, of the University of Notre Dame in Western Australia, said : "Critically, such an indicative burden is far greater than the current capacity within the NHS to screen, detect, triage and treat such cases.

A new study is sounding the warning over a heart condition called Aortic stenosis (Getty)

A third of all cases will remain undiagnosed unless they are proactively screened or undergo tests for another heart problem.

Without treatment, severe aortic valve disease is likely to get worse and may eventually be fatal.

They concluded that aortic stenosis is a 'common condition' in the UK but warned that ‘ without appropriate detection and intervention, survival prospects are likely to be poor ’.

This includes almost 100,000 who have the condition but do not know it.

It occurs when the main valve which takes blood from the heart stiffens and narrows.

Many people do not know they have the disease and only discover they do when it is too late for treatment.

An international team of researchers, including experts from the Universities of Glasgow and Southampton, set out to research the extent of the disease in the UK.

an estimated 20,000 new patients could benefit from treatment each year, but the researchers said this figure is "discordant with current capacity within the nhs".

"These data suggest a high burden of severe aortic stenosis in the UK requiring surgical or transcatheter intervention that challenges the ongoing capacity of the National Health Service to meet the needs of those affected," they wrote.

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