Background: Acute rheumatic fever remains a serious healthcare concern for the majority of the world's population despite its decline in incidence in Europe and North America. The goal of this statement was to review the historic Jones criteria used to diagnose acute rheumatic fever in the context of the current epidemiology of the disease and to update those criteria to also take into account recent evidence supporting the use of Doppler echocardiography in the diagnosis of carditis as a major manifestation of acute rheumatic fever.
Methods and Results: To achieve this goal, the American Heart Association's Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young and its Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis, and Kawasaki Disease Committee organized a writing group to comprehensively review and evaluate the impact of population-specific differences in acute rheumatic fever presentation and changes in presentation that can result from the now worldwide availability of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, a methodological assessment of the numerous published studies that support the use of Doppler echocardiography as a means to diagnose cardiac involvement in acute rheumatic fever, even when overt clinical findings are not apparent, was undertaken to determine the evidence basis for defining subclinical carditis and including it as a major criterion of the Jones criteria. This effort has resulted in the first substantial revision to the Jones criteria by the American Heart Association since 1992 and the first application of the Classification of Recommendations and Levels of Evidence categories developed by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association to the Jones criteria.
Conclusions: This revision of the Jones criteria now brings them into closer alignment with other international guidelines for the diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever by defining high-risk populations, recognizing variability in clinical presentation in these high-risk populations, and including Doppler echocardiography as a tool to diagnose cardiac involvement.