Rheumatic heart disease

The National Rheumatic Heart Disease Data Collection includes information about diagnoses of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) recorded in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales. The total number of RHD diagnoses recorded is dependent on each state and territory’s reporting practices, both historically and presently. The commencement year of each register varies, and RHD has become notifiable at different times in each jurisdiction (refer to Table1).

A person can only have one diagnosis of RHD, though they may be registered in more than one jurisdiction as they can receive care in different places. For the purpose of the national data collection, each diagnosis was assigned to only one jurisdiction, based on their location for primary health care at the time the data were submitted.

As at 31 December 2018, there were 4,993 (10.7 per 100,000 population) people living with RHD recorded on registers recorded in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Of these:

  • 87% were Indigenous Australians (4,325 diagnoses, 948 per 100,000 population)
  • 33% were aged under 25 (1,634 diagnoses)—with 5 aged under 5
  • 65% were female (3,232 diagnoses)
  • Northern Territory had the highest prevalence (2,076 diagnoses, 840 per 100,000).

Of those RHD diagnoses with severity status recorded, just under half (48%) had mild disease (2,301 diagnoses), while 29% had severe disease (1,408).

Older people were more likely to have severe RHD, with 47% aged 45 or over having severe disease (650 diagnoses), compared to 13% of those aged 5–14 (61 diagnoses).