Global, regional, and national burden of rheumatic heart disease, 1990–2015

Published August 23, 2017, in The New England Journal of Medicine (opens in a new window)


Rheumatic heart disease remains an important preventable cause of cardiovascular death and disability, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. We estimated global, regional, and national trends in the prevalence of and mortality due to rheumatic heart disease as part of the 2015 Global Burden of Disease study.


We systematically reviewed data on fatal and nonfatal rheumatic heart disease for the period from 1990 through 2015. Two Global Burden of Disease analytic tools, the Cause of Death Ensemble model and DisMod-MR 2.1, were used to produce estimates of mortality and prevalence, including estimates of uncertainty.


We estimated that there were 319,400 (95% uncertainty interval, 297,300 to 337,300) deaths due to rheumatic heart disease in 2015. Global age-standardized mortality due to rheumatic heart disease decreased by 47.8% (95% uncertainty interval, 44.7 to 50.9) from 1990 to 2015, but large differences were observed across regions. In 2015, the highest age-standardized mortality due to and prevalence of rheumatic heart disease were observed in Oceania, South Asia, and central sub-Saharan Africa. We estimated that in 2015 there were 33.4 million (95% uncertainty interval, 29.7 million to 43.1 million) cases of rheumatic heart disease and 10.5 million (95% uncertainty interval, 9.6 million to 11.5 million) disability-adjusted life-years due to rheumatic heart disease globally.


We estimated the global disease prevalence of and mortality due to rheumatic heart disease over a 25-year period. The health-related burden of rheumatic heart disease has declined worldwide, but high rates of disease persist in some of the poorest regions in the world. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Medtronic Foundation.)

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Watkins DA, Johnson CO, Colquhoun SM, et al. Global, Regional, and National Burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease, 1990–2015The New England Journal of Medicine. 23 Aug 2017; 377(8):713-22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1603693


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