What is the mortality and morbidity associated with acute rheumatic fever (ARF)?

Updated: Dec 10, 2020
  • Author: Robert J Meador, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Mortality rates are steadily improving because of better sanitation and health care. The current pattern of morbidity is difficult to measure because the first attack of rheumatic fever follows an unpredictable course. As many as 90% of episodes are clinically contained within 3 months.

Carditis causes the most severe clinical manifestation because heart valves can be permanently damaged. The disorder also can involve the pericardium, myocardium, and the free borders of valve cusps. Death or total disability may occur years after the initial presentation of carditis. Worldwide, the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease may range from 33 to 78 million cases, and deaths from rheumatic heart disease may range from 275,000 to 1.4 million deaths each year. [19]

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