Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) are diseases that mostly affect children, adolescents, and young adults. These conditions occur at very high rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Almost all cases of these conditions can be prevented.
The World Heart Federation has acknowledged that these conditions impact on marginalised communities.
Rheumatic Heart Disease
This condition is caused by Acute rheumatic fever which leads to inflammation in the heart. This inflammation means that heart valves can become stretched and/ or scarred, which impacts on blood flow. Blood can flow backwards through stretched valves that do not close properly. Blood flow can also be blocked because the scarred valves do not open properly. As blood flow is blocked and the valves cannot work effectively, heart surgery may be needed to treat this condition.
Acute Rheumatic Fever
This illness is caused by the immune system’s response to a bacterial infection with group A streptococcus; known as “strep bacteria”. This type of infection can cause a sore throat, known as “strep throat” and skin sores.
Guidelines for prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD
The app includes the acute rheumatic fever diagnosis calculator. The calculator incorporates an information tab that provides text and visual reference for each technical stage of diagnosis. This is designed to minimise diagnosis error and inconsistency.
Clinician and health worker learning modules
These learning modules have been developed by RHDAustralia:
Fifteen specialised modules developed by clinicians for clinicians on RHD topics such as pregnancy, mitral valve disease, medical management of aortic valve disease and dental care.
For the entire health workforce to provide a basic understanding of best-practice approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD.
A collaborative approach
The Heart Foundation, RHDAustralia and the Menzies School of Health Research are working together to help “Close the Gap” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. This collaboration is focused on preventing and eventually eliminating the impact of RHD.
The aims of the collaboration are:
- To update The Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. The last edition (2nd edition) of the guidelines was published in 2012.
- To develop and implement new education and training resources for Aboriginal Health workers and other health workers, including online resources.
- To support the application of evidence-based practice for prevention activities in high-risk communities across Australia.
- To work with Aboriginal Medical Services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Aboriginal Health workers in target communities.
- To support the implementation of good governance, hiring and staffing and the building of culturally sensitive capabilities.