Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic Heart Disease – Apollo Hospital, Karnataka

What is Rheumatic Heart disease?
Rheumatic heart disease is a health condition of the heart that occurs due to a group of heart disorders that are a result of rheumatic fever. These heart disorders include acute (short-term) as well as chronic (long-term) conditions.

Rheumatic fever, which may not always develop into rheumatic heart disease, is an acute fever that initially occurs due to conditions like strep throat, strep skin infections (impetigo), or scarlet fever if they are left untreated or not treated properly. These bacterial infections belong to Group A streptococcus (Group A strep) and can usually take 1 to 5 weeks to develop into rheumatic fever.

The fever leads to symptoms like inflammation or swelling of the heart, brain, joints, and skin. Such inflammation is caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy parts of your body while it is trying to fight the infection.

What does rheumatic heart disease do to your heart?
As a result of the swelling caused by rheumatic fever, the valves present in the heart begin to experience damage. Over time, this damage leads to scarring of the heart valves, known as the main symptom of rheumatic heart disease.

It further leads to leaking or narrowing of the valves and makes it increasingly difficult for the heart to function correctly. While it may take years for rheumatic heart disease to develop, the condition can dangerously progress into heart failure.

Are you at risk for rheumatic heart disease?
Rheumatic fever is a condition most likely to develop in children and teenagers with under-treated or untreated strep infections. This increases the risk of the fever progressing into rheumatic heart disease.
While group A strep infections tend to spread, rheumatic fever is not contagious. However, your child is at increased risk for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease if he/she repeatedly gets strep infection of the throat.

Symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Disease
Suffering from rheumatic fever or strep infection repeatedly over a period of time is the key symptom for the diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease.

There are various other symptoms that may be caused by rheumatic fever. Symptoms typically begin to show up 1 to 6 weeks after a period of suffering from strep throat.

The most common symptoms caused by rheumatic fever include the following:

  • Fever
  • Tenderness, swelling, and redness, particularly in the ankles & knees
  • Extreme pain in the joints
  • Lumps under the skin (nodules)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Red, raised rashes (usually on the chest, abdomen, and back)
  • Uncontrollable movements of facial muscles, arms, or legs
  • Weakness felt in the entire body

If these symptoms remain untreated, they could develop into rheumatic heart disease. The symptoms depend on the degree of damage caused to the heart valves. These may include:

  • Swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath (especially when lying down or doing any physical activity)

In case you or your child is suffering from rheumatic fever or any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period, immediately reach out to the medical experts at Apollo Hospital, Karnataka, for precise diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosing Rheumatic Heart Disease at Apollo Hospital, Karnataka
As mentioned above, repeated history of strep throat infection or rheumatic fever can increase the risk of a person being diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease.

People with a recent history of strep infection shall get checked for rheumatic heart disease. The doctors at Apollo Hospital, Karnataka, may take a blood test or throat culture to check for symptoms of strep.

A routine physical exam shall be taken to check for the following:

  • A rub that is caused due to movement or rubbing of the inflamed heart tissues, or
  • A murmur can be heart caused by the leaking of blood around the damaged heart valves.

Other tests for diagnosing rheumatic heart disease include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood tests

Treatments for Rheumatic Heart Disease | Apollo Hospital, Karnataka
Treatment options mainly depend upon the degree of damage that has been caused to the heart valves. In cases where the damage is severe, surgical treatment is performed to repair or replace the damaged valve.

The best option is to treat and prevent rheumatic fever before it causes any more damage and progresses into rheumatic heart disease. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to treat strep infection, prevent rheumatic fever from developing, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of any more heart damage.

Antibiotic treatments may be given to people in order to avoid rheumatic fever. This shall be done to prevent the infection from returning and lower the possibility of any further heart damage. In case you notice any symptoms of rheumatic fever or heart disease, reach out to expert physicians and heart specialists without any further delay. Apollo Hospital, Karnataka, offers various detailed treatment options which patients can discuss with our expert medical practitioners.

Our expert team of heart doctors and cardiac surgeons works with highly qualified and experienced staff to offer the best possible treatment. Apollo Hospital, Karnataka, is equipped with world-class medical facilities & cutting-edge technologies that award us with a high success rate for all surgeries and treatments provided.

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