Heart & Circulatory Health

Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Apr 12, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  2 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Rheumatic fever is a disease that is characterized by fever and joint pain. This is an outcome of improperly treated strep throat and scarlet fever.

Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic fever is a serious inflammatory disease that arises as a complication of partially treated strep throat or scarlet fever. It is caused by group A streptococcus.

Causes

Not all cases of strep throat lead to rheumatic fever. When a strep throat infection or scarlet fever has not been completely treated, the bacteria stay on. They act by confusing the body's immune system to target certain tissues of the body and treat them as foreign agents. This process, in turn, causes inflammation of the heart, skin, joints, and CNS (central nervous system).

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Joint swelling and pain.
  • Fleeting joint pain.
  • Warmth and redness of joint.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Skin nodules.
  • Tonsil enlargement.
  • Chest pain.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Diagnosis

- History of recent strep throat infection.

- Fever with skin rashes or nodules.

- Examination of joints to look for swelling.

- Blood test to detect strep bacteria.

- Heart monitoring with ECG and echocardiogram.

Risk Factors

  1. History: Recent strep infection.
  2. Age: Children from 5 to 10 years of age.
  3. Environmental factors: Overcrowded areas with poor sanitation.

Complications

  • Carditis.
  • Rheumatic heart disease.
  • Mitral valve regurgitation.
  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Heart failure.

What Is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

RHD is a long-term damage caused to the valves and tissues of the heart due to rheumatic fever. In severe cases, there is scarring and irreversible damage to the heart. This causes problems with blood flow through the heart valves, which requires surgical correction. The most worrying factor is that it can go undetected for years. If symptoms do pop up, it can vary as feet swelling, chest pain, weakness, and tiredness.

Treatment

  • Penicillin (antibiotic) is given if an active strep infection is still present.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to counter the tissue inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Aspirin for fever.
  • Anticonvulsant medication.

Prevention

Rheumatic fever can be prevented by treating strep throat and scarlet fever by completing the course of prescribed antibiotics.

When to See a Doctor?

See a doctor if:

- you had a recent throat infection and develop fever soon after,

- you have had rheumatic fever in the past, and you have it again.

For more information consult a valvular heart problems specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/cardiologist/valvular-heart-problems

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  2 min read

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Related Questions & Answers


What can cause frequent throat infection?

Query: Hi doctor, I used to get throat infection whenever I drink cold water. Due to weather also drinking water gets cold. Even that leads to throat infection. What measure shall I take to protect myself from throat infection?  Read Full >>


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Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. Many patients come to me with this complaint of frequent sore throat. First I would say do not worry about this. We must evaluate if there is any pathogenic organism residing in the throat and causing recurrent infections. For the same a throat swab (culture and sensit...  Read Full

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Query: Hi doctor, I am a mother of a 16 year old boy, who is 5.9 feet tall. He has white spots on the back of his throat along with swollen tonsils. He does not have a fever but finds it hard to swallow. Is this strep infection or what is it? He had the same before, and it was told as thrush.  Read Full >>


Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. Yes, it is mostly a streptococcal infection, which is causing the sore throat and all his symptoms. And if your son has a white or yellowish spot, then it is more likely to be a sore throat than an oral thrush, because an oral thrush forms a uniform membrane rather tha...  Read Full

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Query: Hello doctor, I had very mild pain in my finger joints about 10 days ago. But, with due course of time, I also developed pain in knee joints which is mild to severe and also a mild pain in the toes of the foot. I am also having a headache. Further, I took Sinarest last night and in the mo...  Read Full >>


Dr. Saravan Pramod Settipalli
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Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. There are a number of causes that clinically present with symptoms like joint pains and fever. The few conditions are chikungunya and rheumatic fever. A detailed history needs to be obtained and I advise you to go for blood investigation like CB...  Read Full

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