Does rheumatic myocarditis really exists? Systematic study with echocardiography and cardiac troponin I blood levels

Joel Kamblock, Laurent Payot, Bernard Iung, Philippe Costes, Tristan Gillet, Christophe Le Goanvic, Philippe Lionet, Bruno Pagis, Jerome Pasche, Christine Roy, Alec Vahanian, Gérard Papouin
European Heart Journal 2003, 24 (9): 855-62

AIMS: Revised guidelines for diagnosis of rheumatic fever indicate that rheumatic myocarditis may 'contribute' to the genesis of congestive heart failure. Our objective was to assess non-invasively the presence of non-clinical markers of myocardial involvement in acute rheumatic fever.

METHODS: Echocardiography and assessment of cardiac troponin I (cTnI) blood levels were systematically performed in 95 consecutive patients with acute rheumatic fever, who were divided into three groups. Group 1: patients without carditis (n=22); group 2: patients with carditis and without congestive heart failure (n=59); group 3: patients with carditis and congestive heart failure (n=14).

RESULTS: Left ventricular ejection fraction was normal in all patients and did not differ between groups (group 1: 0.72+/-0.08, group 2: 0.69+/-0.06, and group 3: 0.66+/-0.07, p=0.09). Left ventricular diameters tend to be larger in group 3, but all patients had severe mitral and/or aortic regurgitation. Mean cTnI was 0.077+/-0.017 ng/ml (normal <0.1 ng/ml), did not differ between groups (p=0.45), and only 13 patients (seven with pericardial effusion) had detectable levels (0.2-0.4 ng/ml).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study neither detected cTnI elevations nor echocardiographic abnormalities suggesting significant myocardial involvement during rheumatic fever. Congestive heart failure was always associated to severe valve regurgitation.

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