TAKE HEART on SBS TV
Documentary highlights heart disease killing Indigenous Australians
By Sarah Abo
A documentary, filmed over two years across Australia, highlights the unusually high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease among the nation’s Indigenous community.
It focused on remote communities in the Northern Territory, where about 98 per cent of cases are Indigenous, and of those 58 per cent were aged between five and 14.
The documentary ‘Take Heart’, opens with a question: “What disease starts with a sore throat in children, and ends in open heart surgery, stroke, heart failure and premature death?”
It then takes a look into the lives of four young Indigenous Australians diagnosed with the chronic heart disease, highlighting a gaping healthcare hole in the Top End.
Darwin-based paediatric cardiologist Bo Remenyi said rheumatic heart disease was 100 per cent preventable.
“Rheumatic heart disease is a disease of poverty,” Dr Remenyi told SBS News.
“In Australian context, it’s related to poor housing, overcrowding, poor education.
“The saddest part of this is it is most common in the world in our own backyard – in Indigenous communities.”
Rheumatic heart disease is the end result of a contagious strep-germ throat infection that has been left untreated and advances beyond acute rheumatic fever.
Dr Remenyi said she feared the condition had been normalised in the Top End, where high rates of Indigenous children were diagnosed.
Take Heart on SBS TV
Link to original story on SBS Website.