Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is an inflammatory disease of heart valves that is common in the developing world. The repeated bouts of inflammation of heart valves from a particular type of Step infection causes the valves to deform resulting in leaking or failure to open normally. For over 25 years we have seen so many children and adolescence have their lives cut short by this disease. It effects girls more than boys and many times results in death of the young mother during childbirth. The additionally sad issue is that this is a preventable disease. Much of our efforts through Lifesteam are directed toward helping these young people through sponsoring heart surgery, teaching physicians overseas to medically manage this heart disease optimally, and training in prevention of progression of RHD.
Lifesteam has encouraged, helped equip with ultrasound machines, and trained physicians in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania to screen school age children at no cost for early signs of RHD. Once early evidence of RHD is found on a brief cardiac ultrasound examination, the child can be placed on penicillin to prevent progression of the disease. Teaching echocardiology in Kenya We can screen hundreds of children at schools and churches throughout Africa where an average 3-4% have the beginnings of RHD. The goal is to screen tens of thousands and impact this devastating disease with prevention rather than expensive medications and surgery later in the course of the disease. Lifestream is committed to providing training, assisting with the purchase of ultrasound equipment, and penicillin needed for the children identified at risk for this devastating heart disease.