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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Test reveals widespread heart disease among children

Written by  Rogini Moorthi

AN INVESTIGATION into the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in Fiji using echocardiography – ultrasound of the heart – has found that many local schoolchildren have rheumatic heart disease of a mild severity, which has not been diagnosed.

Led by Samantha Colquhoun from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, the study involved 1,666 students (66.5 per cent of whom were indigenous Fijian children) aged between 5 to 14 years of age from ten primary schools in Fiji.

All study participants had to have an echocardiogram as well as an auscultation examination performed by a pediatrician.

Telethon Kids Institute Director and study co-author Professor Jonathan Carapetis says the study is important as it demonstrates the rate of true rheumatic heart disease in the Pacific.

“Rheumatic heart disease is a disease of poverty and is caused by an infection with the streptococcus bacteria that infects the throat,” he says.

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