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Getting Every Child's Heart OK (gECHO) study
The Getting Every Child's Heart OK (gECHO) study was a population-based survey to document the extent of undiagnosed rheumatic heart disease (RHD). The aim of this project was to determine the prevalence of RHD among Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children. It also aimed to determine the most sensitive and specific screening method for RHD and use this information to guide future screening programs. The study was carried out across the north of Australia between 2008 and 2010, and performed an echocardiogram (ECG) on around 5000 children aged between 5 and 14.
The results of gECHO have helped to develop more accurate criteria for diagnosis of RHD on echo and ensure that only people who really have RHD will be treated for it. The program has also provided greater information to assist policy makers in deciding the best screening methods for RHD.
The research found:
- over 99% of children have healthy hearts
- less than one in 100 children have RHD
- more children in remote communities had RHD than children in Darwin and Cairns
- of 3945 high-risk children: 32 met the World Heart Federation criteria for 'definite' RHD (prevalence 8.1 per 1000), and 44 for 'borderline' RHD (prevalence 11.2 per 1000)
- of 1053 low-risk children: none met criteria for 'definite' RHD, and 5 met criteria for 'borderline' RHD
- high-risk children were 4.3 times more likely to have 'definite' or 'borderline' RHD than low-risk children.
The Rheumatic Fever Follow Up Study (RhFFUS), which follows on from the gECHO study, aims to determine if minor echocardiographic changes are associated with an increased risk of ARF or progression to RHD.
Abstract adapted from Menzies School of Health Research
Menzies School of Health Research
John Matthews Building
Building 58 Royal Darwin Hospital Campus
PO Box 41096
Casuarina NT 0811
Phone: (08) 8922 8196
Fax: (08) 8927 5187
Roberts KV, Maguire GP, Brown A, Atkinson DN, Remenyi B, Wheaton G, Ilton M, Carapetis J (2015)
Rheumatic heart disease in Indigenous children in northern Australia: differences in prevalence and the challenges of screening.
Medical Journal of Australia; 203(5): 221e1-221e7
Roberts K, Maguire G, Brown A, Atkinson D, Reményi B, Wheaton G, Kelly A, Kumar RK, Su J-Y, Carapetis JR (2014)
Echocardiographic screening for rheumatic heart disease in high and low risk Australian children.
Circulation; 129(19): 1953-1961
Rémond MGW, Severin KL, Hodder Y, Martin J, Nelson C, Atkinson D, Maguire GP (2013)
Variability in disease burden and management of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in two regions of tropical Australia.
Internal Medicine Journal; 43(4): 386–393
Roberts KV, Brown ADH, Maguire GP, Atkinson DN, Carapetis JR (2013)
Utility of auscultatory screening for detecting rheumatic heart disease in high-risk children in Australia's Northern Territory.
Medical Journal of Australia; 199(3): 196-199
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