Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Gauteng on the decline: Experience at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

Antoinette Myrna Cilliers


Background. The incidence of rheumatic fever (RF) and its complications has waned over the past three to four decades throughout the Western world, but RF remains a problem in developing countries and in the indigenous populations of some well-resourced countries. A marked decline in children presenting with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and chronic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been observed over the past two decades at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) in southern Gauteng Province, South Africa, which mainly serves the periurban population of Soweto.

Objectives. To analyse the observed decline in ARF and RHD, and consider the reasons for the decrease.

Methods. Review of children with ARF and RHD captured on a computerised database of all children seen in the Paediatric Cardiology Unit at CHBAH during 1993 - 2010.

Results. The records of 467 children with ARF and RHD were retrieved from the database. The majority provided addresses in Gauteng, Soweto and North West Province. The number of children documented to have ARF or RHD declined from 64 in 1993 to 3 in 2010. One-third of the patients underwent surgery, the majority mitral valve repair. Most of the patients requiring surgery had addresses in parts of Gauteng other than Soweto and other provinces, with relatively few originating from Soweto.

Conclusion. The decline in the number of children with ARF and RHD presenting to CHBAH may be attributed to an improvement in socioeconomic conditions and better access to medical care for the referral population over the past two decades.

Author's affiliations

Antoinette Myrna Cilliers, Paediatric Cardiology Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

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Epidemiology; Rheumatic fever; Rheumatic heart disease

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(9):632-634. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8318

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-04-11
Date published: 2014-07-22

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