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Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a neglected disease of poverty, which presents challenges for patients, communities, and health systems. These effects are magnified in low resource countries, which bear the highest disease burden. When considering the impact of RHD, it is imperative that we widen our lens in order to better understand how RHD impacts the over 40 million people currently living with this preventable condition and their communities. We aimed to perform an updated literature review on the global impact of RHD, examining a broad range of aspects from disease burden to impact on healthcare system to socioeconomic implications. RHD accounts for 1.6% of all cardiovascular deaths, resulting in 306,000 deaths yearly, with a much higher contribution in low- and middle-income countries, where 82% of the deaths occurred in 2015. RHD can result in severe health adverse outcomes, markedly heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke and embolisms, and ultimately premature death. Thus, preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions are required, although insufficiently available in undersourced settings. As examples, anticoagulation management is poor in endemic regions - and novel oral anticoagulants cannot be recommended - and less than 15% of those in need have access to interventional procedures and valve replacement in Africa. RHD global impact remains high and unequally distributed, with a marked impact on lower resourced populations. This preventable disease negatively affects not only patients, but also the societies and health systems within which they live, presenting broad challenges and high costs along the pathway of prevention, diagnosis, and management. © 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


Joselyn Rwebembera, Andrea Z Beaton, Sarah R de Loizaga, Rodrigo T L Rocha, Nakagaayi Doreen, Isaac Ssinabulya, Emmy Okello, Clara L Fraga, Bruno F Galdino, Maria Carmo P Nunes, Bruno R Nascimento. The Global Impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease. Current cardiology reports. 2021 Oct 01;23(11):160

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PMID: 34599389

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