Around 100,000 people in Britain could have a potentially deadly heart valve disease without even knowing, a new study suggests.

When the number includes those who do know they have the condition it jumps up to almost 300,000.

The condition is called aortic stenosis, which is a heart valve disease that carries a high death rate if left untreated.

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 are afflicted when it is too late for treatment.

News and Star: The NHS is not equipped to deal with the scale of the issue, according to the study (PA)The NHS is not equipped to deal with the scale of the issue, according to the study (PA)

Researchers said the NHS is currently not equipped to deal with the scale of the problem, which could get worse with a growing number of elderly people in society.

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.

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.

Of these, an estimated 68% would have symptoms, so this means an estimated 92,389 people have the disease and do not know it.

How much of a concern is aortic stenosis?

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

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”.

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.