Rheumatic fever

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Rheumatic fever is a significant health concern in India, particularly among children and adolescents. It is essential to understand the signs, classification, causes, triggers, risk factors, types, diagnostic tests, treatments, prevention techniques, and examples of public figures in India who have been affected by this condition. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of rheumatic fever, its impact in India, and how it can be effectively managed.

Signs and Symptoms:

Rheumatic fever can manifest with various signs and symptoms, including:

1. Joint Pain and Swelling: Affected individuals may experience painful, swollen, and tender joints, especially in the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists.

2. Fever: High-grade fever, often accompanied by chills and sweating, is a common symptom.

3. Cardiac Symptoms: Rheumatic fever can cause inflammation of the heart, leading to symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and fatigue.

4. Skin Rashes: Some individuals may develop a characteristic rash known as erythema marginatum, which appears as pink, non-itchy, and ring-shaped patches on the skin.

5. Sydenham’s Chorea: A small percentage of patients may experience involuntary movements, particularly of the face and limbs.

What is Rheumatic Fever?

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that can occur after a group A streptococcal infection, such as strep throat. It is an exaggerated immune response to the bacteria, leading to widespread inflammation in various parts of the body, including the joints, heart, skin, and brain.

How is Rheumatic Fever Classified?

Rheumatic fever is classified based on the Jones criteria, which consider major and minor clinical manifestations, along with evidence of a recent streptococcal infection. The major criteria include carditis (inflammation of the heart), polyarthritis (joint inflammation), chorea (involuntary movements), erythema marginatum (skin rash), and subcutaneous nodules. Minor criteria include fever, joint pain, elevated acute phase reactants (such as C-reactive protein), and prolonged PR interval on electrocardiogram. A diagnosis of rheumatic fever requires evidence of recent streptococcal infection plus either two major criteria or one major and two minor criteria.

Causes and Triggers:

Rheumatic fever is caused by an immune response to group A streptococcal bacteria. When an individual contracts a streptococcal infection, the immune system can mistakenly attack healthy tissues, leading to inflammation in different parts of the body. Poorly treated or recurrent streptococcal infections increase the risk of developing rheumatic fever.

Risk Factors with Examples:

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing rheumatic fever:

1. Age: Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are at the highest risk of developing rheumatic fever, although it can occur at any age.
Example: Children like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist, have been affected by rheumatic fever at a young age.

2. Socioeconomic Factors: Factors such as overcrowding, poor sanitation, and limited access to healthcare facilities can contribute to an increased risk of streptococcal infections and subsequent rheumatic fever.
Example: Individuals living in economically disadvantaged areas are more susceptible to developing rheumatic fever.

3. Genetic Predisposition: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to developing an exaggerated immune response to streptococcal infections.
Example: Certain families may have a history of rheumatic fever, indicating a genetic influence on the susceptibility to the disease.

Types of Rheumatic Fever:

Rheumatic fever primarily affects the joints, heart, skin, and brain. While the severity of symptoms can vary, the condition can be classified into different types based on the affected organs and the extent of inflammation. These types include:

1. Cardiac Rheumatic Fever: In this type, the heart is primarily affected, leading to inflammation of the heart valves (valvulitis), which can cause long-term damage and result in heart murmurs, heart failure, or other cardiac complications.

2. Joint Rheumatic Fever: Joint involvement is a characteristic feature of rheumatic fever, resulting in painful, swollen, and inflamed joints. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists.

3. Neurological Rheumatic Fever: Neurological manifestations, such as Sydenham’s chorea, can occur in some cases. Sydenham’s chorea is characterized by involuntary movements and can affect the face, limbs, and trunk.

Diagnostic Tests and Treatments:

Diagnostic tests for rheumatic fever may include:

1. Throat Culture: A throat swab is taken to identify the presence of group A streptococcal bacteria.

2. Blood Tests: Blood samples may be analyzed to check for elevated acute phase reactants, such as C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which indicate inflammation.

3. Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and can help identify abnormalities, such as prolonged PR interval, which is often seen in rheumatic fever.

Treatment options:

Treatment options for rheumatic fever aim to relieve symptoms, control inflammation, eradicate streptococcal infection, and prevent long-term complications. They may include:

1. Antibiotics: Antibiotic treatment is crucial to eradicate the streptococcal infection and prevent recurrence. Penicillin or other antibiotics may be prescribed.

2. Anti-inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

3. Corticosteroids: In severe cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed to control inflammation in critical organs, such as the heart or brain.

Complications and Prevention Techniques:

Complications of rheumatic fever can include permanent damage to the heart valves (rheumatic heart disease), heart failure, infection of the heart lining (endocarditis), and neurological sequelae. To prevent the occurrence or recurrence of rheumatic fever, it is crucial to:

1. Treat Strep Throat Promptly: Timely and appropriate treatment of streptococcal infections with antibiotics can prevent the development of rheumatic fever.

2. Secondary Prophylaxis: Individuals with a history of rheumatic fever are often prescribed long-term antibiotics to prevent recurrent streptococcal infections and subsequent episodes of rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic fever is a significant health concern in India, particularly among children and adolescents. Marengo Asia Hospitals across India is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients with rheumatic fever. In this article, we will explore how Marengo Asia Hospitals effectively handles patients with rheumatic fever, including early diagnosis, multidisciplinary care, specialized expertise, treatment options, patient education, and long-term management.

Early Diagnosis:

Marengo Asia Hospitals recognizes the importance of early diagnosis in managing rheumatic fever. Through careful assessment of clinical symptoms, medical history, and diagnostic tests, healthcare providers promptly identify and confirm cases of rheumatic fever. Early diagnosis is vital to initiate appropriate treatment and prevent further complications.

Multidisciplinary Care:

Managing rheumatic fever requires a multidisciplinary approach. Marengo Asia Hospitals brings together a team of healthcare professionals, including pediatricians, cardiologists, rheumatologists, and infectious disease specialists. These experts collaborate to develop personalized treatment plans and provide comprehensive care for each patient.

Specialized Expertise:

Marengo Asia Hospitals has a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare professionals who specialize in managing rheumatic fever. These specialists possess in-depth knowledge of the condition, its complications, and the most up-to-date treatment strategies. Their expertise ensures that patients receive the highest standard of care throughout their treatment journey.

Treatment Options:

Treatment options for rheumatic fever aim to address the acute symptoms, control inflammation, eradicate the underlying streptococcal infection, and prevent long-term complications. Marengo Asia Hospitals offers a range of treatment options, which may include:

1. Antibiotics: Antibiotic therapy is essential for eradicating the streptococcal infection and preventing further episodes of rheumatic fever. Penicillin or other suitable antibiotics are prescribed based on the patient’s specific needs.

2. Anti-inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to manage the inflammation and relieve symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. These medications help reduce inflammation and discomfort.

3. Corticosteroids: In more severe cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed to suppress inflammation and manage symptoms affecting critical organs, such as the heart or brain.

Patient Education and Lifestyle Modifications:

Marengo Asia Hospitals prioritizes patient education and empowers individuals with rheumatic fever to actively participate in their own care. Patients and their families receive detailed information about the condition, treatment options, and lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of recurrent streptococcal infections. Education on the importance of completing the full course of antibiotics, maintaining good hygiene, and recognizing early symptoms is provided to promote long-term management and prevent complications.

Long-Term Management and Follow-Up:

Rheumatic fever requires long-term management and regular follow-up care. Marengo Asia Hospitals ensures that patients receive comprehensive post-treatment support, including ongoing monitoring, regular check-ups, and appropriate adjustments to medication regimens as needed. This comprehensive approach helps minimize the risk of disease progression and ensures optimal long-term outcomes.

Preventive Measures:

Preventing recurrent episodes of rheumatic fever is a crucial aspect of management. Marengo Asia Hospitals emphasizes the importance of secondary prophylaxis, which involves administering long-term antibiotics to individuals with a history of rheumatic fever. This preventive measure helps protect patients from future streptococcal infections and reduces the risk of further complications.

Research and Advancements:

Marengo Asia Hospitals actively participates in research initiatives to advance the understanding and management of rheumatic fever. By contributing to ongoing research, the network helps enhance treatment protocols and develop new interventions to improve patient outcomes.

Public Awareness:

Marengo Asia Hospitals engages in public awareness campaigns to educate communities about rheumatic fever. By promoting awareness, they aim to facilitate early recognition of symptoms, encourage timely medical intervention, and reduce the overall burden of rheumatic fever in India.

Marengo Asia Hospitals across India is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients with rheumatic fever. Through early diagnosis, multidisciplinary care, specialized expertise, personalized treatment options, patient education, long-term management, and preventive measures, the network strives to improve the quality of life for individuals affected by this condition. By combining medical excellence with compassionate care, Marengo Asia Hospitals aims to alleviate the burden of rheumatic fever and provide effective management strategies for patients across India.


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Gujarat, INDIA

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