Medical therapy for rheumatic heart disease: is it time to be proactive rather than reactive?


Journal Article (Review)

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is well known to be an active inflammatory process which develops progressive calcification and leaflet thickening over time. The potential for statin therapy in slowing the progression of valvular heart disease is still controversial. Retrospective studies have shown that medical therapy is beneficial for patients with calcific aortic stenosis and recently for rheumatic valve disease. However, the prospective randomized clinical trials have been negative to date. This article discusses the epidemiologic risk factors, basic science, retrospective and prospective studies in valvular heart disease and a future clinical trial to target RHD with statin therapy to slow the progression of this disease. Recent epidemiological studies have revealed the risk factors associated with valvular disease include male gender, smoking, hypertension and elevated serum cholesterol and are similar to the risk factors for vascular atherosclerosis. An increasing number of models of experimental hypercholesterolemia demonstrate features of atherosclerosis in the aortic valve (AV), which are similar to the early stages of vascular atherosclerotic lesions. Calcification, the end stage process of the disease, must be understood as a prognostic indicator in the modification of this cellular process before it is too late. This is important in calcific aortic stenosis as well as in rheumatic valve disease. There are a growing number of studies that describe similar pathophysiologic molecular markers in the development of rheumatic valve disease as in calcific aortic stenosis. In summary, these findings suggest that medical therapies may have a potential role in patients in the early stages of this disease process to slow the progression of RHD affecting the valves. This review will summarize the potential for statin therapy for this patient population.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rajamannan, NM; Antonini-Canterin, F; Moura, L; Zamorano, JL; Rosenhek, RA; Best, PJ; Lloyd, MA; Rocha-Goncalves, F; Chandra, S; Alfieri, O; Lancellotti, P; Tornos, P; Baliga, RR; Wang, A; Bashore, T; Ramakrishnan, S; Spargias, K; Shuvy, M; Beeri, R; Lotan, C; Suwaidi, JA; Bahl, V; Pierard, LA; Maurer, G; Nicolosi, GL; Rahimtoola, SH; Chopra, K; Pandian, NG

Published Date

  • January 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 61 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 14 - 23

PubMed ID

  • 19729684

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19729684

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0019-4832


  • eng

Conference Location

  • India