Abstract: Objective: To determine the death rates and effect on premature mortality in the Northern Territory of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Methods: We ascertained deaths due to acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease for the period 1979-96 from death certificates, a database of all patients with these diseases and mortuary records. Crude and age-standardised death rates were calculated, as were years of potential life lost before age 65, between 15 and 65, and before age 70. Results: Of 182 deaths, 171 (94%) were in Aboriginal people. The mean age at death of Aboriginal people was 35.7 years, compared to 67.3 years in non-Aboriginal people. The age-standardised death rate in Aboriginal people was 30.2 per 100,000 person-years, compared to 1.1 in non-Aboriginal people. Acute carditis caused 13 deaths at a mean age of 14.2 years. Mortality in Aboriginal people was highest in the >30 age groups and in females. Premature mortality for Aboriginal people was more than four times that from developing countries. Conclusions: Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease are not only common in Aboriginal people, they affect and often kill people in their most productive years. A co-ordinated control program should help in the short term, but will not address underlying causes of these and other preventable diseases.
Carapetis, Jonathan R., Currie, Bart J., 1999, Mortality due to acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in the Northern Territory: a preventable cause of death in Aboriginal people, Volume:23, Journal Article, viewed 04 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=17492.