Surgery among First Nations people with rheumatic heart disease

For analysis purposes, a surgical event was included regardless of the year of RHD diagnosis, acknowledging that the years for which jurisdictions have been collecting data vary.

Refer to Table 5.1 for more information.

RHD leads to structural damage to the heart valves – most commonly the mitral valve. The aortic, pulmonary and tricuspid valves can also be affected. Surgery may be needed to replace or repair valves. Surgery may include prolonged hospitalisation, isolation from family, and ongoing regular monitoring. A person may have surgical events more than once on damaged valves, and may have multiple procedures in one surgical event – that is, multiple valves repaired or replaced in a single surgery.

These figures reflect only those surgeries that were recorded in the registers, and may not include all RHD-related surgery undertaken. However, comparison with data from the National Hospital Morbidity Database suggests that most RHD surgeries among First Nations people in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory are recorded on the registers (AIHW unpublished analysis). NSW was not included in this analysis.