Reports and publications

Rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever in Australia: 1996-2011

Posted on: 24 April, 2013
Issue: Vol 13 No 2, April 2013 – June 2013
Related to Cardiovascular health Hospitalisation Northern Territory Queensland Western Australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013)
Rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever in Australia: 1996-2011
Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

This report examines and presents a range of data on acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia. The data show that:

  • ARF now occurs almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The prevalence of RHD is much higher among Indigenous people than other Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considerably more likely to be hospitalised with ARF or RHD, and to die from RHD.

Based on available data, rates of ARF among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are among the highest in the world. Data contained in the report on the incidence of ARF and prevalence of RHD come from the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australian Rheumatic Heart Disease registers. Among the key findings it is noted that:

  • RHD is a serious disease which has a substantial impact on individuals.
  • RHD can be prevented by adequate treatment of ARF.
  • Regular, long-term antibiotic treatment is recommended for people with ARF or RHD.
  • Heart surgery may be required to repair heart valve damage resulting from RHD.

Abstract adapted from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare