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Rheumatic Heart Disease


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Rheumatic Heart Disease

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic (roo-MAT-ik) heart disease was formerly one of the most serious forms of heart disease of childhood and adolescence. Rheumatic heart disease involves damage to the entire heart and its membranes.

Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever and usually occurs after attacks of rheumatic fever. The incidence of rheumatic heart disease has been greatly reduced by widespread use of antibiotics effective against the streptococcal bacterium that causes rheumatic fever.

What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic fever causes rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic fever results from an untreated strep throat. Rheumatic fever can damage the heart valves. If the heart valves are damaged, they will fail to open and close properly. When this damage is permanent, the condition is called rheumatic heart disease.

Who is at risk for Rheumatic Fever?

Rheumatic fever is uncommon in the United States. However, rheumatic fever can occur in children who have had strep infections that were untreated or inadequately treated.

What are the symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Some of the most common symptoms of rheumatic heart disease are: breathlessness, fatigue, palpitations, chest pain, and fainting attacks.

Treatment options for Rheumatic Heart Disease

Treatment of rheumatic heart disease may include medication and surgery. Medication will aim to avoid overexertion. Surgery may be needed to replace the damaged valve(s).

Can Rheumatic Heart Disease be Prevented?

The best way to prevent rheumatic heart disease is to seek immediate medical attention to a strep throat and not let it progress to rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Statistics

  • Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease afflict about 1,800,000 Americans.

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