Rheumatic heart disease continues to be a major health problem in many parts of the world. The epidemiology of rheumatic heart disease in India is of special interest as it may help to understand the effects of economic transition on this enigmatic disease. Critical appraisal of the published literature suggests the possibility of a real decline in the occurrence of the disease in some parts of the country, but a continuing onslaught in several other regions. The rate of decline seems to correlate more with improved public health facilities than with economic development alone. However, the cumulative burden of the disease remains high, and sustained efforts for the prevention of rheumatic heart disease are warranted.
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