Heart / Stroke-Related: Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of untreated rheumatic fever, and it can lead to complications of the heart that can be crippling and often life-threatening. It is common among children and young adults in developing countries, but cases are declining as health care improves around the world.

Causes of Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic fever is first caused by an infection of streptococcal bacteria, or strep. This disease often affects the throat first, and usually can be treated easily with antibiotics. But if it goes untreated, as is sometimes the case in developing countries, it worsens and becomes a disease called rheumatic fever. Eventually, the streptococcal bacteria will spread to other parts of the body, like the joints, central nervous system and heart. In the heart, the complications of rheumatic fever are known as rheumatic heart disease, and they affect the heart valves. This can ultimately lead to heart failure and death.

Treatment

Rheumatic fever is easy to treat if it is detected early. The key in developing nations is spreading awareness of the disease and making sure that adequate medical care is available where needed. And when it is detected, treatment is as simple as a basic course of antibiotics to kill the streptococcal bacteria. If a person has already had rheumatic fever, a recurrence is possible and antibiotics may be needed on a regular basis. If rheumatic heart disease has damaged the heart, then surgery may be necessary.

SOURCE: World Heart Federation

Date Posted
Article Title
6/22/2017
Too Few Women, Docs Understand Dangers of Heart Disease

It kills more than all cancers combined, but study says many overlook the risk

2/3/2017
What to Do If You Think You're Having a Heart Attack

Don't ignore chest pain and seek medical attention immediately, heart specialists say

11/18/2016
Heart Attacks Up in New Orleans Post-Katrina

One hospital reported 3 times more heart admissions after the 2005 storm compared to before

8/29/2016
Fewer Drugs in Pipeline to Treat World's No. 1 Killer

While number of cancer drugs rose, development of new heart medicines stalled, study finds

11/3/2015
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Shorten Life Span: Study

Heart, respiratory problems were main contributors to early death, researchers found

11/13/2013
New Guidelines May Widen Use of Statins

Recommendations focus on patient risk factors rather than cholesterol numbers, experts say

7/27/2010
Longer Time Frame for Clot-Busting Drug May Help Beat Stroke

Expanding the time limit from 3 to 4.5 hours doesn't appear to delay treatment, study suggests

2/26/2009
Diagnosing Strep Key to Curbing Rheumatic Heart Disease

Untreated, one throat strain can lead to damaging fever, physicians warn

5/27/2008
Antidepressants May Prevent Depression After Stroke

Problem-solving therapy could also make a difference, study shows