A New Year, a new project; what will keep the Rotary Club of Kiama busy this coming year? Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is defined as damage to one or more of the heart's valves that is left after episodes of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF).
RHD occurs after recurrent episodes of ARF, where the heart has become inflamed as a result of repeated contact with a throat infection from Group A Streptococcus causing ARF.
When the heart is damaged in this way, the heart valves are unable to function adequately, and heart surgery may be required.
The disappointing news is that we know how to use antibiotics to stop the disease before the heart is damaged, but for this to occur, we need an accurate diagnosis in the early stages.
The genuinely disappointing news is that once again, it is our Indigenous population that is disproportionately represented as people living with the disease.
The project is designed to screen approximately 2000 school-aged children in two Australian and two Timor-Leste remote communities, with pocket-size hand-held echocardiographic (PHHE) devices.
The Indigenous health worker will assess the scan and refer abnormal scans for immediate review by a cardiologist. All health worker echo images will be reviewed in real-time by an offsite cardiologist, who will assess the adequacy of the images, and determine if the echo is abnormal.
Scans deemed inadequate or abnormal by the offsite cardiologist will trigger a referral for cardiologist review.
Two of Kiama Rotary's members are flying this week to these Northern Territory remote communities which signals our active involvement, by assisting with data collection. We'll keep you updated as we progress.