Clinical education sessions link skin health to heart health

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Healthcare workers and medical professionals will have the opportunity to learn more about rheumatic heart disease at free clinical education sessions next week.

The workshop sessions are hosted by Darling Downs Health, the Menzies School of Health Research and Queensland Health.

The two-hour workshops will include practical information and models of care related to group A streptococcus (Strep A) infections, acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Specifically, the workshops will highlight the following:

  • Opportunities for preventing ARF and RHD
  • Importance of managing throat and skin infections in high-risk populations, including swabbing for Strep A
  • Recognising and managing ARF
  • Secondary prevention of ARF
  • Recommended care for people living with RHD
  • Relevant health service referral pathways
  • Role of the Queensland RHD register and control program.

“A simple course of antibiotics can clear up a Strep A infection in the skin or throat, however, if it remains untreated, it can lead to acute rheumatic fever, which causes an inflammatory response in the body,”

Darling Downs Health, Director Public Health and Community Medicine, Dr Liam Flynn

“Over time, recurrent episodes can damage the valves located in the heart causing a permanent condition known as rheumatic heart disease.”

Dr Flynn said in Australia, rheumatic heart disease was mostly seen in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with about 3-5 percent of Aboriginal people living in remote and rural areas with the condition1.

“Rheumatic heart disease is preventable. Preventing Strep A infections in the skin or throat or treating them with antibiotics when they do occur is key to the elimination of RHD,” Dr Flynn said.

"In addition, clinicians should be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of acute rheumatic fever to enable proper management of the illness.”

The free workshops will count towards two hours of Continuing Professional Development and are part of the Healthy Skin, Healthy Heart: Let’s End RHD Together campaign, funded by Queensland Health.

Click on the links to register your attendance:

For more information read the Queensland Health Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease Strategy.

1 Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia (