Episode 5 – What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?
Published: Nov 13, 2023
Authored by Dr. Krishan
In an era where information is readily available at our fingertips, staying informed about healthcare choices has become increasingly important. Dixie Crawford and Dr. Krishan have joined forces to host an engaging 7-part podcast series to talk all things healthcare, wellbeing and wellness.
Dive into this episode to learn about the symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), the bacterial infection that causes RHD (known as strep A) and key useful messages that you can share with your loved ones. Information provided in this episode is intended as a guide only and does not replace advice provided by your healthcare professional.
Dixie is a proud Barkindji woman from Brewarrina (in north-west NSW, Australia) lives on Ngunnawal country. She is the Founder and Managing Director of First Nations community engagement consultancy, Nganya.
Dr. Krishan is a proud dad, husband, and soccer coach at his children’s local primary school. He has a background in hospital medicine and community health, with experience in general practice and working with Aboriginal communities. Dr. Krishan is passionate about patient-centered care and empowering individuals to take control of their health. He is also the Medical Director for Pfizer Australia and New Zealand.
These podcasts are frank and open conversations intended to inform and empower First Nations people and the community with facts and information about everyday health concerns, like how to talk to your doctor about your health questions, and the health checks we need at every stage of life.
In this episode, Dr. Krishan and Dixie Crawford discuss Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), a condition that affects the valves inside the heart.1 RHD is caused by an abnormal immune response to a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called strep A that are found in the throat and on the skin.2 The infection is spread through respiratory secretions, such as saliva or mucus. 2 Symptoms of strep A infection include sore throat, fever, pain when swallowing, fatigue, and body aches.2 It is important to seek medical attention if these symptoms are present, especially in children and teenagers.
While strep A infection are common, not all cases will lead to RHD.2 However, it is crucial to prevent and treat strep A infection to reduce the risk of developing RHD. Prevention measures include practicing good hygiene, washing hands regularly, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals. If a sore throat is diagnosed as strep A infection, it should be treated with antibiotics to prevent complications like RHD.2
1. Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a condition that affects the heart valves and is caused by an abnormal immune response to strep A infection.1
2. Symptoms of strep A infection include sore throat, fever, pain when swallowing, fatigue, and body aches.2
3. Seeking medical attention for a sore throat, especially in children and teenagers, is important to prevent RHD.
4. Prevention measures for strep A infection include practicing good hygiene, washing hands regularly, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals.2
"The best way to prevent rheumatic heart disease is to prevent infection with strep A. So, practicing good hygiene, washing our hands regularly, and if you see people who are sick in your household, if you can avoid close contact with them. Please always seek advice from your medical service or health worker"
Dr. Krishan Thiru
Visit Nganya and learn more about initiatives and work from Dixie and her team https://nganya.com.au/
Dive into the Australian Government’s resource collection: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/annual-health-check-for-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people-resource-collection?language=en