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Experts: Up to 2% of learners in SA have rheumatic heart disease

The disease is caused by acute rheumatic fever, an illness brought on by an autoimmune response to a bacterial infection of the throat or skin.

Picture: Pixabay.com

NEWLANDS - Medical experts say up to 2% of school going children in South Africa have a form of rheumatic heart disease.

The disease is caused by acute rheumatic fever, an illness brought on by an autoimmune response to a bacterial infection of the throat or skin.

Funded by the Universities of Cape Town (UCT) and Manchester and the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit, international clinicians are gathered in Cape Town to brainstorm ideas on how to better diagnose and treat the condition.

An inadequately treated sore throat, as a result of an infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria, can advance to acute rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic fever can cause permanent damage to the heart's valves leading to heart failure.

Welcoming medical specialists, UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng emphasised the university's commitment to assist in drastically reducing the prevalence of the disease.

“I want to encourage you to consider how your approach to heart disease in Africa can rely on African talent and make sure we keep it here.”

Experts including cardiologists from the United States, Uganda and New Zealand are brainstorming improved diagnostics and treatment regimes.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)