First international guidelines for echocardiographic diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease

February 28, 2012

The inaugural international guidelines for the diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a disease that affects tens of millions of people worldwide, have today been published by the World Heart Federation in Nature Reviews Cardiology.

The guidelines define the minimum requirements needed to diagnose RHD in individuals without a clear history of acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and will have important global and national implications.

is conducted with an of the heart's valves and chambers, known as an , but currently no guidelines are available to define what is normal on echocardiography.

In the absence of definitive guidance, physicians reporting on echocardiograms make decisions based on their , and missing the disease at an early stage can have devastating consequences.

"The new evidence-based guidelines clearly define not only what is considered to be a definite and a borderline case of RHD but also what is considered normal in children," said Dr Bo Reményi, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Australia. "The aim of the guidelines is to maximise pick-up of minor degrees of RHD, while preventing over-diagnosis."

The World Heart Federation echocardiographic criteria for RHD have been developed and formulated on the basis of the best available evidence.

"The use of the guidelines should enable rapid identification of RHD patients who do not have a history of ARF," said Prof Jonathan Carapetis, a co-author of the guidelines and Director of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia.

Dr Nigel Wilson a co-author and Paediatric Cardiologist from the Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland New Zealand commented that "the guidelines should also allow for consistent echocardiographic reporting of RHD worldwide, which will in turn help us to get a better understanding of the number of people that are truly affected by this disease."

Three categories have been defined on the basis of assessment by 2D, continuous-wave, and color-Doppler : 'definite RHD', 'borderline RHD', and 'normal'. Four subcategories of 'definite RHD' and three subcategories of 'borderline RHD' exist, to reflect the various disease patterns.

Explore further: New harmonized cardiovascular treatment guidelines make heart disease treatment easier

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Artificial heart design features porous plastic foam

October 2, 2015

Artificial hearts with multiple moving parts increase the chance of failure; scientists have worked up a device which is a single piece. No less interesting is the material they used; the team is taking a page out of soft ...

What powers the pumping heart?

September 25, 2015

Researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research have uncovered a treasure trove of proteins, which hold answers about how our heart pumps—a phenomenon known as contractility.

Sticky gel helps stem cells heal rat hearts

September 24, 2015

A sticky, protein-rich gel created by Johns Hopkins researchers appears to help stem cells stay on or in rat hearts and restore their metabolism after transplantation, improving cardiac function after simulated heart attacks, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.