“According to a survey, over 2.5 million patients in India suffer from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) which involves either the blockage or the opening of one or more of the four valves of the heart” said Dr. V K Sharma. Dr. Sharma is the Director – Cardiology at Fortis Hospital, Ludhiana.
According to the World Heart Federation, RHD is a chronic heart condition caused by rheumatic fever that can be prevented and controlled. RHD is the most common acquired heart disease in children in many countries of the world, especially in developing countries. RHD affects more children living in the developing countries, especially where poverty is widespread. Overcrowding, poor housing conditions, undernutrition and lack of access to healthcare are some of the main causes. In contrast, the incidence of rheumatic fever in developed countries has declined due to improved living conditions and availability of antibiotics for treatment of group A streptococcal infection.
Some global RHD facts
- The global burden of disease caused by rheumatic fever and RHD currently falls disproportionately on children and young adults living in low-income countries and is responsible for about 233,000 deaths annually.
- At least 15.6 million people are estimated to be currently affected by RHD with a significant number of them requiring repeated hospitalization and, often unaffordable, heart surgery in the next five to 20 years.
- The worst affected areas are sub-Saharan Africa, south-central Asia, the Pacific and indigenous populations of Australia and New Zealand.
- Up to 1 per cent of all schoolchildren in Africa, Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and Latin America show signs of the disease.