Islanders’ high rate of heart disease
HEALTH officials have treated several Torres Strait islanders for Rheumatic Heart Disease, which has been added to the list of notifiable conditions in Queensland.
The disease is a potentially deadly condition where a person’s heart valves have become stretch or scarred, and is caused by repeated cases of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF), an illness caused by the body’s auto-immune response to strep bacteria.
RHD statewide register and control program manager Erin Howell said the change in reporting would lead to better outcomes for patients.
Ms Howell, who returned from a recent screening trip to the Torres Strait, said they found a number of patients tested positive for RHD, however they were able to administer treatment immediately.
“Both RHD and ARF are conditions that are virtually non-existent in developed societies,” she said.
“However, Australia has some of the highest documented rates of RHD in the world, with the majority of Queensland’s patients living in the Far North, Torres and Cape.”
She said now that RHD was a notifiable condition, health authorities would be able to more accurately examine cases in specific communities, identify who was most at risk, and help to ensure patients received adequate follow-up and treatment.