Acute rheumatic fever prophylaxis in high-income countries: clinical observations from an Italian multicentre, retrospective study

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2020 Sep-Oct;38(5):1016-1020. Epub 2020 Jan 20.


Objectives: The aim of the study is to evaluate the compliance rate to secondary prophylaxis and the presence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in a cohort of Italian patients with acute rheumatic fever (ARF).

Methods: This is a multicentre retrospective study. The patients were divided into two groups by the presence or absence at last follow-up of RHD. Clinical features, ARF recurrences and the rate of compliance to secondary prophylaxis were evaluated.

Results: Two-hundred and ninety patients were enrolled (137 females; 153 males). Carditis at onset was present in 244 patients (84.7%). At the end of follow-up, 173 patients manifested RHD. Adherence to secondary prophylaxis was low in 26% of patients. The presence of RHD at follow-up was associated with the presence of carditis and its severity at onset (p=0.001), but it was not related to secondary prophylaxis adherence (p=NS). No association between prophylaxis adherence and ARF recurrence was found (p=NS) nor between ARF recurrence and RHD at the end of follow-up (p=NS).

Conclusions: Poor adherence to secondary prophylaxis does not seem to be associated with increased risk of RHD in developed countries. Further studies are needed to confirm our data in a larger population.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rheumatic Fever* / diagnosis
  • Rheumatic Fever* / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Fever* / prevention & control
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease* / diagnosis
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease* / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease* / prevention & control