Issue 10
Monday, 03 December 2018
Charles Darwin University
Dr Alice Mitchell has developed the free
Dr Alice Mitchell has developed the free "Take Heart" smartphone app

Smart phones to help with heart sickness

By Danielle Lee-Ryder

A new smartphone app is helping in the fight against one of the leading causes of death among young Indigenous people in remote communities.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is 100% preventable but responsible for the deaths of Indigenous young people ranging in age from toddlers to adolescents.

Through her research for Menzies School of Health Research, Dr Alice Mitchell spent time in remote communities gaining trust and finding that people knew little about the disease, its prevention and the ongoing treatment.

To give Indigenous people, particularly younger people, a better understanding of RHD, Dr Mitchell developed the free “Take Heart” app, with support from Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation and Moonshine Agency.

“Once people know about the disease and the importance of treatment, they are very committed to the treatment,” she said. “The ‘Take Heart’ app notifies users of their next injection date and sends reminder alerts.”

Recalling a case of an eight-year-old child she encountered when working as a nurse in Arnhem Land, Dr Mitchell said: “He stopped treatment thinking he was okay; he was only 20 when he died.

“Treatment is long-term and painful; it’s an injection every 21 to 28 days for 10 years. He didn’t like the treatment because it hurt. He stopped having his injections when he became a young adult because he didn’t know he still needed to and it was vital for his health.”

RHD is prevalent in remote communities throughout the NT with some of the highest rates recorded in the world.

For more information ot get the app, click here