Rheumatic Heart Disease

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic heart disease describes a group of short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) heart disorders that occur as a result of acute rheumatic fever. Damage of the heart valves is a common result of rheumatic fever. It is these damages that lead to the defect in the heart. Acute rheumatic fever is a condition in which the connective tissues of the body, the heart, joints, brain, and skin are swollen. It is usually seen in children who are 5 to 15 years old.

On an average, 60% of those with rheumatic fever develop heart diseases at a later stage of life. All parts of the heart get damaged due to inflammation. The most affected is generally the mitral valve.


The symptoms of this disease change over the course of time. This fever usually sets in about some weeks after a strep throat infection. They usually occur as a result of inflammation in the heart, central nervous system, or joints. The symptoms that you might face due to rheumatic heart disease are:

  • Chest pain.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Swollen ankles, wrists, and stomach.
  • Excessive fatigue.
  • Thumping sensation in chest.


The prime cause of Rheumatic fever is Group A Streptococcus. This kind of fever makes the body attack its own tissues after it is infected with the strep throat bacteria. This disorder causes:

  • Strep throat.
  • Scarlet fever.
  • Body inflammation.


The main risk factors are:

  • Family history.
  • Strep bacteria.
  • Environmental conditions such as unclean water,
  • overcrowding, and improper sanitation.


To prevent the fever from happening, there are some things one should take care of:

  • Covering the mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • Proper washing of hands.
  • Maintaining distance from sick people

How is it treated?

At Medanta, our doctors prescribe you medication that would not only protect you from Rheumatic fever and its recurrence, but will also avoid the growth of infective bacteria in valves and linings of the heart. 


  • Antibiotics

     They will help avoid infection in the heart valves and will particularly treat your strep infection.

  • Surgery

    Surgery is only needed if the leak gets severe enough to affect the size of the heart. It will repair your heart’s damaged valve. In some cases, the valve is so badly damaged that it cannot be repaired. It is then replaced with an artificial valve.

  • Insertion

     Balloons are inserted through veins to open up stuck valves and restore them to health.

When do I contact the doctor

If you or your child begins to experience signs of strep throat, you are quite likely  to have rheumatic fever, and therefore you should immediately see a doctor. Adequate treatment of strep can help you prevent rheumatic fever. Early treatment and diagnosis of the disease clearly stops its progression. 

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