Health Smart phone app helps beat killer heart sickness

Smart phone app helps beat killer heart sickness

Researchers from Charles Darwin University have developed a smartphone app to help beat one of the leading causes of death among young Indigenous people living in remote communities.

Developed by Dr Alice Mitchell, the free ‘Take Heart’ app gives users information about how to prevent and treat rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

RHD damages the heart valves and is caused by acute rheumatic fever or infection. The chronic disease is preventable but sadly causes the death of many Indigenous young people, including toddlers.

Aboriginal people are 69 times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to develop rheumatic fever and 64 times more likely to have rheumatic heart disease.

“Children as young as four have died from RHD and the tragedy is it’s entirely preventable,” says Mitchell.

“Once people know about the disease and the importance of treatment, they are very committed to the treatment.

“The ‘Take Heart’ app notifies users of their next injection date and sends reminder alerts.”

RHD requires an injection every 21 to 28 days for 10 years.

Dr Mitchell recalls a case of an eight-year-old boy she met when working as a nurse in Arnhem Land who stopped treatment thinking he was okay.

“He was only 20 when he died,” she says.

“He stopped having his injections when he became a young adult because he didn’t know he still needed to and it was vital for his health.”

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