Introduction: Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is still a common cause of morbidity and mortality in India. Rheumatic fever commonly occurs between 5-15 yrs of age. Rheumatic activity is a common cause of deterioration of symptoms in a stable or undiagnosed case of RHD.
Material and methods: 41 consecutive patients of acute rheumatic activity were studied. Presenting symptoms were noted. Physical examination was done for major and minor Jone's criteria. Detailed cardiac examination was done. All underwent echocardiography.
Results: Mean age was 14.80 ± 7.01 yrs, 26 were female and 15 were male. Joint pain was the commonest present complaint (29 patients), followed by fever in 17 patients, 32 had carditis, 26 had arthritis, 13 had subcutaneous nodules, 7 had chorea and one had erythema marginatum. In patients with carditis, 30 had mitral regurgitation (MR) only, 15 had MR with aortic regurgitation (AR). Out of 32 patients with carditis, 10 patients did not have any clinical evidence of carditis and were detected by echocardiography only. Six patients were known cases of rheumatic fever but had stopped penicillin prophylaxis.
Conclusion: Commonest complaint in patients with rheumatic fever was joint pain followed by fever. In patients with carditis, all had MR, with 1/3rd of these patients having associated AR. 1/3rd of patients with carditis were detected by echo only and therefore, echo should be included in diagnostic criteria for acute rheumatic fever. None of the patients who developed rheumatic fever was on penicillin prophylaxis.