1.06 Acute rheumatic fever & rheumatic heart disease

This measure reports on acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease for Indigenous Australians.

Why is it important?

Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is a disease caused by an autoimmune reaction to an infection with the bacterium group A streptococcus. ARF is a short illness, but it can result in rheumatic heart disease (RHD), which is permanent damage to the heart. ARF and RHD are associated with environmental factors such as poverty and poor living conditions. ARF and RHD are now rare diseases in populations with good living conditions and easy access to quality medical care (He et al. 2016). Indigenous Australians remain at risk of ARF/RHD because of socioeconomic disadvantage and barriers to accessing health care (AHMAC 2017).

Data sources

  • Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland Rheumatic Heart Disease Program data
  • South Australian Rheumatic Heart Disease Register
  • National Hospital Morbidity Database


  • He VY, Condon JR, Ralph AP, Zhao Y, Roberts K, de Dassel JL et al. 2016. Long term outcomes from acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease: a data linkage and survival analysis approach. Circulation 134:222–32.
  • Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Committee 2017. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017 report. Canberra: AHMAC.