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Rheumatic Heart Disease Research from Children's National Named Top 10 Advance in Heart Disease/Stroke Research for 2012

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association named a study from pediatric cardiologists at Children’s National Medical Center as one of the top 10 advances in heart and stroke research for 2012. In a study published in Circulation in June, Craig Sable, MD, and Andrea Beaton, MD, found that routine screening with echocardiogram can detect three times as many cases of rheumatic heart disease as clinical examinations. The significance of this research is that it offers a novel approach in preventing a very common disease.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a significant global health problem, impacting more than 15 million people. In the study from Children’s National, the team studied more than 5,000 children in Uganda, making it the largest screening trial for RHD. The team found that the echocardiogram detected three times as many cases of rheumatic heart disease as the traditional use of only the stethoscope.

“We’re honored to have our work in pediatrics recognized by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association,” said Dr. Beaton, the study’s lead author. “Hopefully, this will help bring more attention to a preventable global health issue.”

The AHA has been compiling an annual list of the top 10 major advances in heart disease and stroke research since 1996. This year’s top advances mark the first time that several pediatric research advances were featured.

“We’re happy that our work with rheumatic heart disease and other important pediatric discoveries were recognized by the American Heart Association. Pediatric heart disease is an important, but easily overlooked area that impacts families throughout the world,” said Dr. Sable, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s National and senior author.  Dr. Sable is chair of AHA Committee on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young.

RHD is the most common acquired cardiovascular disease, affecting approximately 15 million people, with a high incidence in developing countries. RHD is caused by repeated exposure to streptococcal bacteria, or strep throat, which is treated with antibiotics – when easily accessible. Repeated exposure to strep can lead to RHD, which carries many risks, including death. By identifying signs of RHD early, children can receive readily available antibiotics to prevent serious harm.

Contact: Emily Dammeyer or Emily Hartman, Children’s National Public Relations: 202.476.4500.

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