Spearheaded by Dr Louise Shewan, 500Hearts has recruited some of the world’s top cardiac experts who have donated their time and energy to this worthwhile endeavour.

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is regarded as a disease of inequality and disadvantage. 

Prevalence of the disease is high in the developing world where it remains a major cause of morbidity and premature death. RHD is a complication of rheumatic fever (caused by infection with Group A streptococcus bacterium).  It may develop after a single episode or following repeated illness with rheumatic fever.  The disease causes permanent damage to the heart, particularly the heart valves.

In October 2011 the 500Hearts team visited the village of Sophy in rural NW Cambodia where we examined 500 school-aged children.  This pilot project, funded by the University included clinical assessment of the children, the administration to each of them of echocardiography and an ECG, mouth swabs for the possible detection of infections and genetic analysis to investigate any genetic causes of heart disease, and the trial of cutting edge software to acquire and analyse key parameters derived from echocardiography.

The ongoing 500Hearts projects will lead to the development of a detailed research protocol for a prevalence survey of Rheumatic Heart disease in rural Cambodia and will inform preventive and management strategies.

500Hearts is grateful for the support given by the Cambodian Ministry of Health.

Research Team:

Dr Louise Shewan (Monash University, Australia)

Prof Chris Semsarian (University of Sydney, Australia)

Dr Ngeth Pises (Angkor Hospital for Children, Cambodia)

Prof Michael Henein (Umea University Sweden)

Prof Andrew Coats (Monash University, Australia)

Prof Xander Wehrens (Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA)

Dr Darrel Francis (Imperial College London, UK)

Dr Graham Cole (Imperial College London, UK)

Prof. Simon Stewart (Baker IDI)

With Mr Suy Pov


Ms Ju-en Tan (University of Sydney)

Ms Cilin Eng   

Ms Maratha An

Staff at the Sophy Medical Centre


University of Sydney International Program Development Fund

Visit the current archaeological project, From Paddy to Pura: The origins of Angkor, Dr Shewan is working on by clicking here. Or the archaeological project at Phum Sophy, In Their Bones, by clicking here.

Project photos

Screening for rheumatic heart disease in rural Cambodia

For more information contact: Dr Louise Shewan