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Valvular heart disease (VHD) occurs when one or more valves does not form properly before birth (congenital) or if they become damaged during life (acquired). In the developing world, infections such as rheumatic fever are still prevalent and can cause valve damage. In the UK and other developed countries, the most common cause of VHD is degeneration - wear and tear - over time.

A cardiology team, led by Dr Bernard Prendergast and Associate Professor Saul Myerson, at the Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, wanted to find out how common VHD was in the older population. In 2009, the team started the OxValve study to screen people over the age of 65 years for VHD. The study recruited over 4,000 people and found an overall prevalence of 12.5%. Full details of the OxValve study and its findings can be found here: http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/cardiac/research/oxvalve.aspx

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences team at the University of Oxford, led by Professor Richard Hobbs, is exploring the importance of the OxValve findings for Primary Care through a linked programme of work (OxValve-PC). The first project, OxValve-Survive, will link the information provided by participants at study visits with NHS Digital and civil registration data to report the survival rates, and cause of death, for the whole OxValve cohort. This work will determine how long people live for following a diagnosis of VHD, and whether they die from heart-related problems or something else, to help doctors and patients understand more about the condition.

A minimum amount of identifiable data (name, date of birth, NHS number) will be shared with NHS Digital to carry out the linkage between the study data and civil registration data. The data processor will be the University of Oxford. NHS Digital will provide date and cause of death directly to the study team. As soon as the date and cause of death is linked with the participants study information, all data will be anonymised.

If you are an OxValve participant, you are free to withdraw your consent for data linkage with NHS Digital at any time. Please contact the study team at oxvalvepc@phc.ox.ac.uk, call 01865 289300 or write to us at OxValve-PC, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Radcliffe Primary Care Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG.