This heart illness starts with a rheumatic fever that damages the valves of the heart. Rheumatic heart disease is caused by an infection of the throat that is not treated correctly.
It comes from a fever that can lead to inflammatory disease. Hence, it affects tissues in the heart, brain, skin, and joints. It can start serious damages to the heart valves. Later on, the valve will narrow and leak. As a result, the heart will not function normally. If not properly treated, it can go to heart failure and cause death. Also, it can happen to anyone at any age. However, it usually affects children ages 5 to 15 years old. It is not common to first world countries like the United States.
2. Who is affected?
Rheumatic heart disease can start with a strep throat that is not treated. That is the reason why it is common in children. Hence, a repeat case of this throat infection can go to a serious condition.
A doctor can find out the condition by asking for the history of the illness. Furthermore, signs may vary from one person to another. Signs can start after 1 to 6 weeks, right after having a strep throat. Also, some cases are very mild to know that it is already an infection of the throat. Here are the most common signs:
- Rheumatic FeverPain in the joint like knees and ankles
- Lumps in the skin
- Rashes n the chest, back, tummy
- Inability to breathe
- Uncontrolled movement of the legs, arms, and muscles
- Chest pain
People with this serious illness have a recent strep infection. A doctor may request a blood test for confirmation. However, a physical exam can discover it because of a sound coming from the damaged valve. Some tests may include:
- Echocardiogram- It is a type of test that uses sound waves to check the valves. The echo sound comes from a leaking valve. This test is the most useful when it comes to finding out a heart problem.
- Electrocardiogram- It is a test that records electrical activity in the heart. Once there is an abnormal rhythm, then it means that there is damage.
- Chest X-ray- This test can detect the abnormal size of the heart.
- MRI- It is an imaging test that takes pictures of the heart. This test is best to get an exact look at the heart.
- Blood test- There is a blood test that can find out an infection.
5. Possible Treatment
A doctor needs first to know the actual condition of the heart. Importantly, it is advisable before they recommend any treatment. Some serious cases need surgery to replace or fix damages to the valve. It is advisable to avoid heart failure.
Moreover, it is best to stay away from having rheumatic fever. If you feel a slight pain in swallowing, then quickly see a doctor. Therefore, it may be a sign of a throat problem. There are drugs that you can take to fight bacteria. There are medicines to stop going to heart failure.
People who recently go through the infection usually take antibiotics. As a result, prevent infection from getting back.
6. Possible Complications
There are lots of bad effects of having this serious type of fever. It includes the following:
- It can lead to heart failure if the case is serious.
- Infection from bacteria can affect the lining of the heart.
- Also, pregnant women are at risk. If you are pregnant and you experience pain in the throat, quickly see a doctor. However, if you already had the illness and want to get pregnant, you must first consult a doctor.
The most effective prevention is to stop strep infection. By getting the right treatment, you will be able to stay away from the illness. Also, it is important to take antibiotics according to the doctor’s instructions. Above all, finish taking medicines even if you are already feeling well.
Regular check-up is important for people with this illness. Some doctors may ask you to stop doing some activities. Also, they may give you medicines that you need to take for a longer time. It is to prevent the infection from coming back.