What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?
What is Rheumatic Heart Disease? Rheumatic Heart Disease, or RHD, starts in children as an infection from a common sore throat and possibly infected skin sores. And it can end in open heart surgery, stroke, heart failure or premature death. RHD is a progressive, chronic disease that can be fatal – that means that it progressively gets worse, stays with those who have it for life and can end their lives.
The good news is that RHD is completely preventable. No child is born with it and no-one needs to suffer from this disease.
RHD was once wide-spread across Australia. In the 1940s, children in Melbourne with Rheumatic Fever – the illness that leads to RHD – filled dedicated wards at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Now, the disease is virtually gone from all parts of Australia other than in remote and Indigenous communities.
“It’s a very important message that a sore throat in a child must not be neglected, must not be ignored, because if it is caused by strep, it could, indeed, lead to heart disease, which is why we encourage mothers and caregivers that when their child, particularly between the ages of five and fifteen years, which is the period in which you get rheumatic fever the most, we encourage them to take the child to the clinic, to the doctor, so they can be examined.” Professor Bongani Mayosi, Cardiologist, South Africa
“Rheumatic heart disease is a problem of the heart valves, but it follows another disease that is called rheumatic fever. So, rheumatic fever occurs mainly in kids. It occurs after you get an infection of the throat, usually with a bug called the Streptococcus bug, the classic sore throat that school kids will get. Some of those kids, when that infection gets better, two or three weeks later, they will get sick.” Professor Jonathan Carapetis, RhEACH, Australia
If a child you know has:
Infected skin sores
Go to the health clinic to check it.
If you found What is Rheumatic Heart Disease? helpful then please watch Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection to learn more about what causes Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Learn more about the Take Heart Project ‘About’
Sign Up to keep up to date with all the latest project information and short films as they release.