Health Geeku - Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic Heart Disease | Symptoms | Causes | Treatment

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic Heart Disease: What is rheumatic heart disease (RHD)? Does it affect your heart as the name implies? Before you find the answer, it’s much better to understand about rheumatic fever.

Because this kind of inflammation disease is also often found together with Rheumatic Heart Disease! Even statistics show that RHD is the most severe complication and pretty common complication that occurs from poorly treated rheumatic fever disease.

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic fever – what is it?

Rheumatic fever can categorize into a group of inflammatory disease that typically occurs due to a complication of inappropriately treated with a strep throat infection. This infection often causes a fever at an early stage. In many cases, it triggered by streptococcus bacteria.

Children are the most vulnerable to have this kind of infection, particularly for those from 5 to 15 years old. Nevertheless, streptococcus bacterial infection also can occur in younger children (younger than five years of age) and teenagers (older than 15 years of age) or even adults.

Then, what is rheumatic heart disease?

As the name suggests, it is a condition to describe an advance stage of rheumatic fever that causes damage to the heart. These include narrowing the heart’s valve, a leak that occurs in the valve of the heart, and even the weakness of the heart’s muscles.

In other words, Rheumatic Heart Disease is a medical term used to describe a severe complication of rheumatic fever that has affected the performance of the heart.

And you need to thoroughly understand that the heart damage due to rheumatic fever can be permanent and irreversible. That’s why doctors categorize this inflammation disease into a group of severe infections that can be potentially life-threatening.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the heart damage is the most significant dangerous complication of rheumatic fever. About almost 50 percent of all cases of this inflammation problem can scar the heart valves, (crucial parts of the heart to pump and distribute blood all around the body).

For children who get the streptococcus bacterial infection and develop a rheumatic fever for the first time, and then they get adequate & appropriate treatment, they are less likely to have RHD. But on the other hand, if the inflammation reoccurs, Rheumatic Heart Disease is also more likely to occur.

If the rheumatic fever reoccurs, doctors often ask their patients to take certain antibiotics (at low dose) to help kill and cure the bacterial infection completely.

These antibiotics might continually be endorsed dependent upon 3 to 5 years to ensure that the infection won’t reoccur for the subsequent time.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Symptoms

Rheumatic heart disease symptoms may vary from patient to patient. Some patients may only experience a few noticeable signs and symptoms, while others may have more noticeable signs. Furthermore, these signs may also alter during the specific courses of the disease.

Therefore, the occurrence of the symptoms is not the single option to make a diagnosis of this inflammation disease.

Typically, the onset of this disease is started by the infection of the throat due to bacteria called Streptococcus Pyogenes – a condition that medically familiar called rheumatic fever. The emergence of this kind of fever can occur about 2-4 weeks after the infection.

Some statistics show that this disease is more likely to occur in children (5 to 15 years of age). Though nowadays it is more common in some developing countries, fortunately, it is rare in many countries all around the world –,, particularly in western countries.

Nevertheless, this kind of inflammatory disease can be potentially life-threatening. Therefore, it’s essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you notice any sign /symptom that may point to the existence of this rheumatic heart disease!

As mentioned before, the occurrence of rheumatic heart disease symptoms is typically closely associated with the early signs of rheumatic fever. These may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Painful joints – pain may start only in one joint of a specific area of your body. But then it can migrate to another joint.
    The pain joints are more likely to occur in the wrists, knees, and elbows. Sometimes the painful joint may also occur in the feet, hands, shoulders, and hips.
  • Swollen /redness joints.
  • Muscle aches.
  • You may also experience painless & small nodules beneath your skin.
  • Erythema marginatum (painless rash /slightly-raised with a ragged edge).

Streptococcus Pyogenes infection

If these signs due to Streptococcus Pyogenes infection are left untreated over months. There is a chance for rheumatic fever to cause rheumatic heart disease. With some of the following common signs and symptoms of rheumatic heart disease. According to WebMD

  1. Shortness of breath.
  2. Chest pain (more often to occur in men).
  3. Palpitations (sensation of pounding, rapid, or fluttering heartbeats).

Fever can be an early sign of infection due to Streptococcus Pyogenes – as noted before. But how do you distinguish between normal fever and fever triggered by this kind of bacteria? According to Mayo Clinic, call a doctor promptly if you notice fever in your child with the following situations:

  1. If fever (for any fever) lasts more than three days.
  2. Your child is older than two years of age. And she /he experiences a fever higher than 39.4 C or 103 F!
  3. The age of your child is about six weeks to two years. And she /he has a fever higher than 38.9 C or 102 F.
  4. You have a newborn with six weeks of age. And she /he experiences a fever higher than 37.8 C or 100 F!

Additionally, rheumatic fever also can be potential to cause a medical condition called ‘Sydenham chorea’ (uncontrollable body movement, typically occurs in the face, hands, and feet).

Sydenham chorea may also be followed with outbursts of unusual /abnormal habits. Such as inappropriate laughing or crying without a known reason

Early Symptoms Of Heart Disease In Women

Heart disease is a serious matter that can’t separate from our life. Recently heart disease doesn’t only attack old men but also young women. Heart disease is categorized as the leading killer on the planet. It can strike suddenly without the signs and even result in death for the sufferer.

Now we shall explain to you the early symptom of heart disease in women. In reality, several factors can cause heart disease in women. One of all is obesity and the wrong diet. Obesity can influence a blood condition in the heart.

Women who have blood with lower pressure. Usually the heart just able to pump blood slowly because of having too narrow of blood vessels in the heart.

The narrow vessels in the heart commonly are due to excessive fats in women’s bodies. And finally, they have a huge opportunity for getting a heart disease.

Listed below are some early symptoms of heart disease in women that you ought to know.

Get Extremely Tired

Extreme tired commonly will attack some women, especially housewives, who always busy at work. Even some of them still feel extremely tired, although they do nothing. It usually happens for long days or even for a few weeks before heart disease occurs.

The whole body will feel so exhausted incredibly and unpredictably without the reasons. In some instances, the sufferers precisely can’t lift several light stuff that not overweight to lift. It is a general condition experienced by a person who suffers from heart disease.

Shortness in breath

Almost 59 % of women reported that they felt difficulty in breathing even many of them couldn’t speak clearly because of shortness in breathing.

It can be a severe matter should they don’t consult to doctor at the earliest opportunity. Because it will undoubtedly be the worse thing in the future even can cause an unpredictable death in women.


Most women will feel so uneasy before they finally got the heart disease, and we think it is an accurate indication. They will be anxious about some restless that they believe.

The very best action that if you do after get a cardiovascular disease is by taking aspirin, it is necessary to avoid thrombosis and the harmful impacts that may happen.

Also, by knowing early symptoms of heart disease in women. It is possible to prevent this disease earlier. Become to be more severe or at least ready your self before it comes.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Causes

Some recent studies still confirm that the rheumatic heart disease causes are the infections that occur in the throat due to bacteria belong to a group-A streptococcus.

Nevertheless, experts also believe that there are certain environmental factors and the weakness of the immune body system. That also has a contribution to trigger the strep throat infection. That followed with the wrong response of the body’s immune system in fighting the infection.

How does streptococcus bacterial infection cause rheumatic heart disease?

Typically, the patient will develop a rheumatic fever before they get rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic fever itself is a kind of inflammation disease. It occurs due to the bacterial infection of the throat.

If it comes for the second time or its reoccurrence is more often, and left untreated. The inflammation can be potential. Also, it causes damage to valves and muscles of heart which then can lead to a condition called rheumatic heart disease.

In general, rheumatic fever is the result of the negative reaction of the body’s immune system to respond to the infection of group-A of streptococcus bacteria.

Without a known reason, the immune system of a patient doesn’t fight the bacterial infection. Instead, it attacks its body tissues.

As a result, the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system and the bacterial infection attack certain joints of the body.

With the bacterial infection and the wrong response of the immune system, this can be a great combination to cause damage to the heart and its surrounding muscles & tissues.

Eventually, this situation can put you at a high risk of heart failure or other problems of the heart.

However, the exact link between rheumatic fever and this bacterial infection of the throat is also still debatable. But there are more studies show that the weakness of the immune system and this strep infection are linked to each other.

According to the National Institutes of Health. The bacterial infection that affects the throat and causes strep throat may contain or produce a protein similar to one naturally found in specific tissues of the body.

This may be the answer to why the antibodies from the immune system attack the body tissues.

What else factors can increase your risk?

Like most things in bacterial infections and other inflammation diseases, experts also believe that having a family history of rheumatic heart disease can put someone at a higher risk of developing and experiencing the same condition.

Other possible risk factors are the unfriendly environmental factors and the kind of strep bacteria itself.

For the environmental factors, bad habits /situations such as living in poor sanitation, cigarette smoking, overcrowding environment may have a contribution.

And streptococcus pyogenes may be a kind bacterium from group-A streptococcus. That may have much more input to trigger strep throat infection of rheumatic fever than others.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Treatment

Rheumatic heart disease treatment options are usually dependent on how far the damage due to infection of rheumatic fever affects the heart.

But generally, the use of antibiotics is still a part of the initial treatment plan to make sure the infection due to bacteria completely cured. The prescribed antibiotics are also intended to kill any bacteria that trigger the infection.

The treatment options prior to rheumatic heart disease

The prevention is much better than treating the advanced stage of rheumatic fever. As well we know, rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a condition that occurs due to rheumatic fever that reoccurs (acute /chronic) or poorly treated.

In other words, if you or your children have rheumatic fever, it’s important to cure and treat this kind of inflammation disease completely – otherwise, there is a chance for the disease to get worse and then can lead to RHD.

If rheumatic fever occurs for the first time and at an early stage, the treatment options can include:


Since bacterial infection is the main reason that can cause rheumatic fever, the use of antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat this inflammation disease and prevent its complications (such as RHD).

After the first session of treatment with certain antibiotics, the doctor may also need to prescribe another treatment plan with the same /different antibiotics to prevent the recurrence of the bacterial infection.

Anti-inflammatory medication

To treat the inflammation caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor can use and prescribe certain pain relievers such as naproxen or aspirin. The use of these pain killers is also intended to improve the pain of joints and fever.

Anticonvulsant treatment

If the patient experiences a severe Sydenham chorea (uncontrolled body movement problem), certain anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed!

Rheumatic heart disease treatment

Since problems of the heart are a severe health condition and even can be potential to make a patient pass out, the more advanced treatment plan is often required.

However, the decision of treatment for RHD is also often associated with the severity of the disease itself. But in general, the treatment plan may include:

  1. Still, antibiotics are needed – as noted before. In many cases, they needed to treat the infection (particularly the infections of heart valves).
  2. Still, antibiotics are needed – as noted before. In many cases, they needed to treat the infection (particularly the infections of heart valves).
  3. Stroke also can occur in people with RHD. Therefore, sometimes doctors can use blood-thinning medication to prevent this complication. This kind of medication also can thin blood of patient so thus can help for replacement valves.
  4. If there is a blocked valve of heart, the doctor may need to insert balloon-medication through a vein to open up stuck-heart-valve.

If necessary, the doctor may need to perform a particular surgery if there is damage to the heart valve. The option of surgery and the kind of surgery that will perform are closely associated with the severity of the heart valves damage.

Also Read:
Causes of Heart Valve Disease | Symptoms And Treatment


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