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Penicillin Reactions in Patients With Severe Rheumatic Heart Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. J Am Heart Assoc 2022 Mar;11(5):e024517



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85125554299 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   6 Citations


Secondary antibiotic prophylaxis with regular intramuscular benzathine penicillin G (BPG) is the cornerstone of rheumatic heart disease management. However, there is a growing body of evidence that patients with rheumatic heart disease who have severe valvular heart disease with or without reduced ventricular function may be dying from cardiovascular compromise following BPG injections. This advisory responds to these concerns and is intended to: (1) raise awareness, (2) provide risk stratification, and (3) provide strategies for risk reduction. Based on available evidence and expert opinion, we have divided patients into low- and elevated-risk groups, based on symptoms and the severity of underlying heart disease. Patients with elevated risk include those with severe mitral stenosis, aortic stenosis, and aortic insuffiency; those with decreased left ventricular systolic dysfunction; and those with no symptoms. For these patients, we believe the risk of adverse reaction to BPG, specifically cardiovascular compromise, may outweigh its theoretical benefit. For patients with elevated risk, we newly advise that oral prophylaxis should be strongly considered. In addition, we advocate for a multifaceted strategy for vasovagal risk reduction in all patients with rheumatic heart disease receiving BPG. As current guidelines recommend, all low-risk patients without a history of penicillin allergy or anaphylaxis should continue to be prescribed BPG for secondary antibiotic prophylaxis. We publish this advisory in the hopes of saving lives and avoiding events that can have devastating effects on patient and clinician confidence in BPG.

Author List

Sanyahumbi A, Ali S, Benjamin IJ, Karthikeyan G, Okello E, Sable CA, Taubert K, Wyber R, Zuhlke L, Carapetis JR, Beaton AZ, American Heart Association


Ivor J. Benjamin MD Center Director, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

American Heart Association
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Penicillin G Benzathine
Rheumatic Heart Disease
Secondary Prevention