Causes of rheumatic heart disease
Rheumatic fever, an inflammatory condition that can damage numerous connective tissues, particularly in the heart, joints, skin, or brain, is the root cause of rheumatic heart disease. Over time, the heart valves may become damaged and irritated. This may make it more difficult for the heart to operate correctly as a result of the heart valve narrowing or leaking. Heart failure may occur from this, which might take years to grow.
Rheumatic fever can strike anybody at any age, although it most frequently affects kids between the ages of 5 and 15.
What signs or symptoms are there for rheumatic heart disease?
The diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease depends on a recent history of strep infection or rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever symptoms might vary and commonly appear 1 to 6 weeks following a case of strep throat. Sometimes the illness is too little to be detected, or it may already be gone by the time the patient visits a doctor.
The most typical signs of rheumatic fever are as follows:
- Joints that are really painful, swollen, sensitive, red, and especially the knees and ankles.
- Nodules (lumps under the skin).
- Lattice-like, red, elevated rash that often affects the chest, back, and belly.
- Chest pain and breathing difficulties.
- Muscles in the arms, legs, or face move erratically.
Depending on the extent of valve damage, rheumatic heart disease symptoms may include:
- Breathing difficulty (especially with activity or when lying down).
- Chest pain.
Who is at risk for rheumatic heart disease?
The risk of developing rheumatic heart disease is increased by untreated or improperly treated strep infections. The risk of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease is highest in children who experience recurrent strep throat infections.
Treatment of rheumatic heart disease
The severity of the heart valve damage determines the course of treatment. Surgery to replace or repair a severely damaged valve may be necessary for severe cases of the condition.
Preventing rheumatic fever is the greatest form of therapy. Strep infections may typically be treated with antibiotics, as can the development of rheumatic fever. To lessen inflammation and limit the risk of heart damage, anti-inflammatory medications may be utilized. To treat heart failure, additional medications could be required.
To avoid recurring infections and reduce the danger of additional heart damage, people with rheumatic fever are frequently prescribed daily or monthly antibiotic treatments. These treatments may last for the rest of their lives. Aspirin, steroids, or non-steroidal medications may be used to decrease inflammation.