How many people have ARF and/or RHD?

At 31 December 2018, data from jurisdictional registers in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory show, 6,802 living people were recorded on one or more of these jurisdictional registers. Almost 2 in 5 of these people had diagnoses of both ARF and RHD recorded (38%, 2,561 persons), around 1 in 3 had only RHD recorded (35%, 2,354), and the remainder had only ARF recorded (28%, 1,887).

Of the persons recorded on jurisdictional registers:

  • 9 in 10 (89%) were Indigenous Australians
  • 6 in 10 (61%) were female
  • 4 in 10 (40%) were aged 5–14 when first diagnosed.

People on ARF/RHD registers by age at diagnosis. Vertical bar chart showing the total number of persons on ARF/RHD registers as at 31 December 2018 by age at diagnosis, and the option to filter by sex. There were 160 persons aged 0-4, 2,706 aged 5-14, 1,587 aged 15-24, 1,585 aged 25-44 and 764 aged 45 and over. There were more females than males across most age groups.

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ARF and RHD were made notifiable in NSW in 2015, with RHD being notifiable only in persons aged less than 35 years. A register was established in NSW in 2016. As at 31 December 2018, 120 persons with ARF and/or RHD had been notified in NSW. Due to differences such as timeframes in operation and case ascertainment, these data are not currently comparable with those from the other jurisdictions. Data for NSW are presented in a standalone section of the report.


RHD Australia, (ARF/RHD writing group), National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, 2012. The Australian guideline for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (2nd edn). Northern Territory: RHD Australia, Menzies School of Health Research.

McDonald M, Currie BJ, Carapetis JR. 2004. Acute rheumatic fever: a chink in the chain that links the heart to the throat. Lancet Infectious Disease 4(4):240-5.

Webb RH, Grant C, Harnden A. 2015. Acute Rheumatic Fever. British Medical Journal 351(8017).