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New tools to help prevent the burden of rheumatic heart disease amongst children
Date:5/7/2014

Melbourne (07 May, 2014) Two new studies presented at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology (WCC) today show the importance of collecting comprehensive patient information nationally and providing timely access to health services in tackling one of the world's most neglected and easily prevented diseases in children, rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

RHD, a chronic heart condition caused by acute rheumatic fever (ARF), is the most common acquired heart disease amongst children in developing countries and affects over 15 million people.i RHD is not only a neglected disease, it is also easily prevented and controlled; acute rheumatic fever can mostly be avoided by treating acute throat infections caused by group A streptococcus (GAS) with a simple, short course of antibiotics.i For those who have had rheumatic fever, monthly injections of long-acting penicillin can prevent recurrent attacks of rheumatic fever which can lead to further heart valve damage.

On the same day a unique new handbook to support the development of RHD control programmes is launched, new research puts a spotlight on the steps two countries are taking to better manage RHD and improve the lives of thousands of children at risk of developing the condition.

New Zealand: a country tackling RHD head on

The New Zealand government has put a priority target in place to reduce rheumatic fever by two thirds by 2017 and is investing in education and prevention work in at-risk communities in New Zealand's North Island, working together with partners to find innovative solutions. As part of these solutions, improvements to the surveillance system to support programme planning and monitoring have been introduced and a revised patient management system to prevent recurrences of rheumatic fever is planned.

In addition, the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Auckland and epidemiological experts from across the country have independently und
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Contact: Alissa Gutteridge
agutteridge@dnamedcomms.co.uk
44-788-005-2940
World Heart Federation
Source:Eurekalert

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