We carried out a retrospective case control analysis to evaluate the outcome, and the need for treatment, of problems with atrioventricular conduction occurring during an acute attack of rheumatic fever, assessing the occurrence of second and third atrioventricular block versus first degree block.
We reviewed and analysed the clinical, electrocardiographic and echocardiographic records of all children diagnosed in a single institute as having acute rheumatic fever during a period of seven consecutive years.
During the period from October, 1994, through October, 2001, 65 children meeting the modified Jones criterions for acute rheumatic fever were hospitalized in the Soroka University Medical Center, Israel. First-degree atrioventricular block was identified in 72.3% of the children, and resolved with no specific treatment other than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Second-degree atrioventricular block of Mobitz type I, was observed in one child (1.5%), which progressed from first-degree block, and subsequently resolved. Complete atrioventricuar block was found in 3 children (4.6%), one progressing from Mobitz type I second-degree block, and two being seen as the first presentation. Of the three children with complete atrioventricular block, one patient was not treated, the second was treated with aspirin, and the final one with combined aspirin and steroids. The disturbances of conduction resolved in all three.
We conclude that advanced atrioventricular block is rare during acute rheumatic fever. If occurring, block appears to be temporary, and resolves with conventional anti-inflammatory treatment. Specific treatment, such as insertion of a temporary pacemaker, should be considered only when syncope or clinical symptoms persist.