London: India accounted for the highest estimated number of deaths due to rheumatic heart disease globally in 2015 with over 119,000 people dying from the ailment, according to a study.

India was among the five countries with the largest estimated numbers of cases of rheumatic heart disease in 2015, together accounting for 73% of global cases. The number of cases of rheumatic heart disease in India were 13.17 million followed by China with 7.07 million, Pakistan with 2.25 million, Indonesia with 1.18 million, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 805,000, according to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“In 2015, the countries with the highest estimated numbers of deaths due to rheumatic heart disease were India (119,100 deaths), China (72,600), and Pakistan (18,900)," it said.

The highest estimated age-standardised death rates — more than 10 deaths per 100,000 population — were in the Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Fiji, India, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Central African Republic, and Lesotho, it added.

Rheumatic heart disease is a sequela of acute rheumatic fever, which is usually a disease of poverty associated with overcrowding, poor sanitation and other social determinants of poor health.

According to the study, global age-standardised mortality from rheumatic heart disease decreased from 9.2 deaths per 100,000 population in 1990 to 4.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 2015, a decrease of 47.8%.

An estimated 77% and 82% of the deaths in 1990 and 2015, respectively, occurred in locations with an endemic disease pattern. The study titled ‘Global, Regional, and National Burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease, 1990–2015’ used multiple sources of data and epidemiological modelling techniques to estimate the global 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 the condition persists in some of the poorest regions in the world, the study concluded.

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