rheumatic fever

rheumatic fever n an acute often recurrent disease occurring chiefly in children and young adults and characterized by fever, inflammation, pain, and swelling in and around the joints, inflammatory involvement of the pericardium and valves of the heart, and often the formation of small nodules chiefly in the subcutaneous tissues and the heart

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a disease affecting mainly children and young adults that arises as a delayed complication of infection of the upper respiratory tract with haemolytic streptococci (see Streptococcus). The main features are fever, arthritis progressing from joint to joint, reddish circular patches on the skin, small painless nodules formed on bony prominences such as the elbow, abnormal involuntary movements of the limbs and head (Sydenham's chorea), and inflammation of the heart muscle, its valves, and the membrane surrounding the heart. The condition may progress to chronic rheumatic heart disease, with scarring and chronic inflammation of the heart and its valves leading to heart failure, murmurs, and damage to the valves. The initial infection is treated with antibiotics (e.g. penicillin) and bed rest, with aspirin to relieve the joint pain. Following an acute attack, long-term prophylaxis with penicillin is often recommended to prevent a relapse. Rheumatic fever is becoming much less common in developed countries, probably as a result of antibiotic use.

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a febrile disease occurring as a delayed sequela of infections with group A beta-hemolytic streptococci, characterized by multiple focal inflammatory lesions of connective tissue, especially of the heart (rheumatic heart disease), blood vessels, and joints (acute rheumatic arthritis); other manifestations include sudden fever, joint pain, abdominal pain, and Sydenham chorea. Aschoff bodies are typically present in the myocardium and skin. Atypical manifestations may also be seen, particularly in adults.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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