Is­lan­ders’ high rate of heart dis­ease

The Weekend Post - - News - DANIEL BATE­MAN

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.

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