Caring for Pregnant Women with Rheumatic Heart Disease - 14 October 2021 at 12:30pm (AEDT)


Up to 78% of women with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women.
For pregnant women with rheumatic heart disease there is an increased cardiac demands of pregnancy (including 30-50% increased blood volume) which presents increased maternal and foetal risks.
Optimal management can be hampered by limited cardiac services in remote areas, turnover of health staff, and delayed attendance at clinics due a lack of trust and sense of cultural safety.
However, careful preconception planning, Antenatal care, monitoring and support during pregnancy, can improve outcomes for both mother and baby.

Pregnancy and childbirth should be a joyous time – but the burden of RHD can make it feel dangerous and threatening.  

Dr Geraldine Vaughan will speak about the new RHDAustralia guidelines and E-Learning(link is external) on the management of RHD in women and girls. RHDAustralia has updated and extended their guidelines to incorporate a whole-of-life approach including:

  • A new section on transition to adult care, reproductive health, and preconception care is provided.
  • Discussion around the need and strategies for a well-planned pregnancy and delivery are updated.
  • Anticoagulation during pregnancy and impact in reproductive health has been revised and expanded.
  • Care pathways for women and girls with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) are provided, including a referral algorithm in pregnancy.

Amanda Bywaters, Clinical Nurse Consultant for Cairns and Hinterlands, Torres Strait Hospital and Health services will speak about the QLD Rheumatic Heart Disease Program, which provides education and advice to healthcare providers, clients, family members and the broader community to raise awareness and understanding of ARF and RHD and improve the diagnosis and management of clients with ARF/RHD.

The presentation will cover:

  • Why is RHD important in women and girls.
  • What can attendees do to improve care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait women and girls with RHD
  • What the QLD RHD Register and Control Program does to support maternity care for women with RHD in QLD


Featured speakers:

Dr Geraldine Vaughan
Lecturer - Public Health
CQUniversity Australia

Amanda Bywaters
Clinical Nurse Consultant for Cairns and Hinterlands, Torres Strait Hospital and Health services
Rheumatic Heart Disease Program (RHD) Queensland


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