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Clinical, laboratory and echocardiographic profile of acute rheumatic fever in Nepali children.

BACKGROUND: Acute rheumatic fever (RF) is a common, preventable health problem in developing countries. Sporadic outbreaks and the prevalence in some indigenous populations have renewed interest in RF in developed countries also.

AIMS: To describe the clinical, laboratory and echocardiographic features, outcome and value of echocardiography in detecting valvular disease in RF.

METHODS: A prospective, cross-sectional study was conducted over 2 years. Patients under 14 years admitted to the cardiology unit of Kanti Children's Hospital, Kathmandu with RF using the Jones criteria were recruited consecutively.

RESULTS: The median age (range) of the 51 patients was 11 (5-14) years, the male:female ratio was 1.6:1 and 39% had a history of a sore throat. Clinical and laboratory features detected were as follows: carditis 92%, arthritis 33%, chorea 8%, subcutaneous nodules 4%, fever 51%, arthralgia 37%, elevated antistreptolysin O titre 94%, elevated CRP 78%, prolonged PR interval 45%, pericardial effusion 22% and cardiac failure 28%. In total, 36 patients (71%) complained of joint pains. A murmur on auscultation was significantly associated with underlying diseased valves confirmed by echocardiography (p=0.001). A murmur was audible in 78.4% and diseased valves were confirmed by echocardiography in 88.2%. The mitral valve was the most commonly involved valve (82%) and mitral regurgitation the commonest lesion (24%). A thickened mitral valve predicted carditis (p=0.007). Five (10%) patients died.

CONCLUSION: Inclusion of echocardiographic evidence of carditis and possibly arthralgia as major criteria would improve case detection.

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