Prevention

There are some specific prevention strategies for Rheumatic Heart Diseases as well as the regular prevention strategies for heart disease.

Specific prevention strategies for Rheumatic Heart Diseases include:

Primordial prevention: the aim of this prevention stage is to reduce the impact of strep infection in the community and population. Typically, ARF appears in low-socioeconomic communities, with the aim of this stage to improve economic, social, behavioural as well as environmental conditions. An example could be improving housing conditions as well as teaching healthy hygiene practices.

Primary prevention: the role of primary prevention in ARF and subsequent RHD is to identify and treat those who are most at risk of ARF – children between 5-14 years of age. If strep is diagnosed early and managed with antibiotics such as penicillin, this reduces the overall risk of ARF and RHD in the future.

Secondary prevention: in this stage it is aimed that there is early identification and treatment of ARF, as well as interventions to prevent recurrences of ARF and therefore reduce the likelihood of RHD. Typically, in this stage individuals are treated with further doses of antibiotics, referrals and engagement with health services as well as education for at-risk individuals.

Tertiary prevention: the overall aim of tertiary prevention is to prevent premature death and reduce the level of disability inflicted by RHD. This is done by managing and treating RHD symptoms through therapies such as heart valve surgery and medication therapy.