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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Second national report 2016

The 2nd National Report describes the cardiac disease profile of Indigenous Australians between the years 2011 to 2014. Priority areas recommended by the Better Cardiac Care Forum focus on improving knowledge of early warning signs of cardiac disease by Indigenous people and regular assessment to facilitate early detection and timely treatment.  Strengthening diagnosis of Acute Rheumatic Fever/Rheumatic Heart Disease and improving aftercare is the key aim of Priority 5. To achieve this aim, Priority 5 recommends the implementation of five objectives; which include making the disease notifiable in all Australian jurisdictions, improving aftercare management through the creation of a national Register and linkage to electronic  health records, strengthening clinician capacity to diagnose, treat and manage the disease, and enabling management of tertiary interventions through the provision of centres dedicated to Indigenous heart surgery and culturally-appropriate  support services.

  • Acute Rheumatic Fever/Rheumatic Heart Disease is a disease that primarily affects Indigenous Australians. During the 4-year period between 2011 and 2014, the incidence rate for newly diagnosed cases of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF), the precursor stage to Rheumatic Heart Disease, was 59 cases for every 100,000 Indigenous Australians. For the rest of Australia, the rate was much lower at 0.2 cases per 100,000 other Australians
  • On average; the Northern Territory (NT) the ARF incidence rate was 139 cases for every 100,000 Indigenous Territorians. This rate was the highest of all jurisdictions, more than four times greater than the lowest rate in Queensland (28 cases per 100,000 population). Just over a third (34%) of the newly diagnosed ARF notifications in the NT  were recurrences, meaning they were repeat episodes.
  • Over this four-year time period, the rate of ARF notifications doubled in the Northern Territory (NT), from around 80 cases to 160 cases per 100,00 population. Despite the doubling in case load, the NT had the most success in treatment aftercare with almost half (46%) of all cases registered onto the NT Register receiving more than 80% of required benzathine penicillin G (BPG) injections during 2014.