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Epidemiology and prevention of valvular heart diseases and infective endocarditis in Africa
  1. Vuyisile T Nkomo
  1. Dr V T Nkomo, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA; nkomo.vuyisile{at}


Valvular heart diseases in Africa affect mainly children and young adults and are a result of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is a preventable disease, but in Africa the combination of a lack of resources, lack of infrastructure, political, social and economic instability, poverty, overcrowding, malnutrition and lack of political will contributes to the persistence of a high burden of rheumatic fever, rheumatic valvular heart diseases and infective endocarditis. Combating and eradicating rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart diseases requires economic development and implementation of best practices of primary and secondary prevention measures. The barriers to achieving this goal in Africa are numerous, but not insurmountable.

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  • Conflict of interest: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    group A β-haemolytic streptococcus
    rheumatic fever
    rheumatic heart disease
    valvular heart disease