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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 74-79

Clinical screening for heart disease in apparently healthy Nigerian school children

Department of Paediatrics, University of Jos, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
F Bode-Thomas
Department of Paediatrics, University of Jos, Jos University Teaching Hospital, PMB 2076, Jos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0189-7969.142085

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Background: Heart diseases of childhood are of public health importance, especially in developing countries. Community-based studies are important in ascertaining the burden of disease. We set out to clinically evaluate the prevalence of heart disease among primary school children in Hwolshe electoral Ward, Jos, Plateau State. Subjects and Methods: A total of 418 primary school pupils were selected by multistage sampling from three schools in Hwolshe ward of Jos South Local Government Area, Plateau State. They were studied for the prevalence of heart disease using clinical examination, followed by chest radiography, electrocardiography and echocardiography (echo) in those with clinical signs of heart disease. Results: The 418 subjects were aged 6-12 (mean 9.0 ± 1.95) years. 252 (55.5%) were girls. Significant tachycardia and pulse irregularity were present in 1 (0.24%) and 3 (0.72%) children respectively. None had hypertension - according to the seventh Joint National Committee criteria. 4 (0.96%) had audible murmurs of which 3 (0.72%) were pathologic. These three subjects were subsequently confirmed by echo to have congenital heart disease (CHD) - two ventricular septal defects and one atrial septal defect. The heart disease prevalence was therefore, 0.72%. All three identified cases of CHD had associated cardiac dysrhythmias: Wandering atrial pacemaker, first degree heart block, and incomplete right bundle branch block, respectively. No case of rheumatic heart disease was identified. Conclusions: Prevalence of heart disease by clinical screening in Jos South school children is approximately 0.72%. Careful cardiac auscultation as part of compulsory health screening at primary school entry and exit will help detect asymptomatic children with heart disease and facilitate treatment before the onset of complications.

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