About Rheumatic Heart Disease

We think of heart diseases effecting older people in affluent countries.   Disease brought on by poor lifestyle, poor diet and smoking.

Many diseases of the heart also effect those on developing countries or in ares of developed countries where there are severe social or economic pressures.

Rheumatic Heart Disease is just such a disease.

Rheumatic heart disease is caused by the bodies over reaction to streptococcal throat infection ( severe soar throat).  This provides a disease called acute rheumatic fever.  In many cases the sufferer is unaware that they have suffered from this.

Acute rheumatic fever causes inflammation of heart valves and with each throat infection the disease reactivates leading to increasingly severe scarring of the heart valves.

Over time, scarred heart valves become  either leaky or narrowed and this puts immense strain on the heart leading to heart failure

RHD map

Rheumatic fever is a disease of poverty – the map above shows its worldwide distribution

Contributing factors are poor housing, under nutritian and poor access to medical help and prompt antibiotics.

The statistics are shocking

Third most common cause for heart failure in Africa

15 million sufferer worldwide

Half a million new cases each year

Quarter of a million deaths each year

Heart diseases mostly effect older people in affluent nations, but there are still many heart diseases of poverty which can be prevented given the right will.

Rheumatic Heart Disease is just such as disease.  After detection           (and echo is 10 times more effective than clinical exam)inexpensive and effective treatment is effective at reducing the chance of progressing from early disease to advanced heart failure.

Rheumatic Heart Disease remains the third largest cause of heart failure on the continent of Africa.

Against this backdrop, the BSE has partnered with the University of Stellenbosch to create a program of screening for under priveledged children

We cannot prevent every case of Rheumatic Heart Disease, but the BSE is harnessing the enormous dedication and enthusiasm of our members  to do what little we can, with the skills we have been given.