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Cardiovasc J Afr. 2013 Apr;24(3):80-5. doi: 10.5830/CVJA-2013-004.

Cardiovascular complications in newly diagnosed rheumatic heart disease patients at Mulago Hospital, Uganda.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda.



Complications of rheumatic heart disease are associated with severe morbidity and mortality in developing countries where the disease prevalence remains high. Due to lack of screening services, many patients present late, with severe valve disease. In Uganda, the disease and its complications are still not well studied.


To profile and describe cardiovascular complications in newly diagnosed rheumatic heart disease patients attending the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda.


This was a cross-sectional study where consecutive, newly diagnosed rheumatic heart disease patients were assessed and followed up for complications, such as heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, atrial fibrillation, recurrence of acute rheumatic fever, and stroke.


A total of 309 (115 males and 196 females) definite rheumatic heart disease patients aged 15-60 years were enrolled in the study and analysed. Complications occurred in 49% (152/309) of the newly diagnosed rheumatic heart disease cases, with heart failure (46.9%) the most common complication, followed by pulmonary arterial hypertension (32.7%), atrial fibrillation (13.9%), recurrence of acute rheumatic fever (11.4%), infective endocarditis (4.5%) and stroke (1.3%). Atrial fibrillation and acute rheumatic fever were the most common complications associated with heart failure.


In this study we found that about 50% of newly diagnosed rheumatic heart disease patients in Uganda presented with complications. Heart failure and pulmonary arterial hypertension were the most commonly observed complications.

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