Heart 99:1554-1561 doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2013-303896
  • Global burden of cardiovascular disease

Congenital heart disease and rheumatic heart disease in Africa: recent advances and current priorities

Open Access
  1. Eloi Marijon3
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital and University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Paris Cardiovascular Research Centre (PARCC–Inserm U970), European Georges Pompidou Hospital, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Liesl Zühlke, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, J46-43 Old Main Building, Observatory 7945, Cape Town, South Africa;  liesl.zuhlke{at}
  • Received 28 February 2013
  • Revised 16 April 2013
  • Accepted 20 April 2013
  • Published Online First 16 May 2013


Africa has one of the highest prevalence of heart diseases in children and young adults, including congenital heart disease (CHD) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). We present here an extensive review of recent data from the African continent highlighting key studies and information regarding progress in CHD and RHD since 2005. Main findings include evidence that the CHD burden is underestimated mainly due to the poor outcome of African children with CHD. The interest in primary prevention for RHD has been recently re-emphasised, and new data are available regarding echocardiographic screening for subclinical RHD and initiation of secondary prevention. There is an urgent need for comprehensive service frameworks to improve access and level of care and services for patients, educational programmes to reinforce the importance of prevention and early diagnosis and a relevant research agenda focusing on the African context.

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