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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Bid to cut rheumatic heart disease rates

Date posted: 19 May 2014

Efforts are being made in Australia to reduce the high rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in remote Aboriginal communities and refugee groups.

RHD is most commonly found in Third World countries, but in Australia, there are relatively high rates of RHD in remote Aboriginal communities and in some refugee groups. Efforts are being made to reduce the problem through better early detection programs. One of the first signs of RHD is a sore throat.  If left undetected this can lead to heart damage.

Kenya McAdam, who grew up in a remote Indigenous community at Halls Creek, Western Australia (WA) was eight when she went to the doctor with a sore throat which was treated with Panadol. Sore throats continued for Kenya as she was growing up, but she was never tested for any disease.  Seven years later she returned to the doctor crawling on hands and knees - her heart had been damaged by the untreated throat infections. Diagnosed with RHD, Kenya had open-heart surgery when she was 15.

Director of RHD Australia, Professor Bart Currie says early detection is getting better as the federal government funds special health staff and education programs in remote areas of Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory. Professor Currie hopes this will soon be extended to South Australia.

Source: SBS News


Last updated: 16 May 2014
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