Rheumatic Heart Disease – Renewed Attention to an Old Problem

Rosalyn Adigun, MD PharmD 2013 Graduate, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Rheumatic Heart Disease – Renewed Attention to an Old Problem-Ghana 2013

Rosalyn shares:

“During my second visit to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (March — April 2013),  I was interested in evaluating the burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) diagnosed via echocardiography  in the patients at the National Cardiothoracic Center located on the grounds of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra Ghana.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) remains a major cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in developing countries and with the transatlantic migration of people for various reasons, it is increasingly important  to implement better surveillance by health care personnel  in developed nations.  Although the preceding infection Acute Rheumatic fever (ARF) and RHD are rare in developed countries, they pose major public health problems among children and young adults in developing countries where these diseases are endemic with their most devastating sequelae presenting during the most productive years of the affected population.

The objective of my project was to evaluate the burden of RHD in Ghana by evaluating the echocardiography data in patients evaluated at the National Cardiothoracic Center Accra Ghana between November 2010 and November 2012. I was able to review over 9000 echocardiograms conducted during this period, and the World Heart Federation criteria for echocardiographic diagnosis of RHD was used to determine if a patient met the criteria for RHD.

While there are still limitations to capturing the real burden of the RHD in Ghana, this information learned from the project will provide evidence-based information to clinicians in educating patients, establishing surveillance programs, and providing better care to patients presenting with RHD. I hope to submit an abstract of my research findings for publication in the near future.”

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