Rheumatic heart disease is a heart condition that is caused by rheumatic fever. This condition can be chronic and last a lifetime or only cause short term effects on the heart. Rheumatic fever is a fairly uncommon disease in developed countries. However, in developing countries, rheumatic heart disease is the leading cause of heart disease in children and young adults reports UpToDate.
Rheumatic heart disease is a serious condition that is easily preventable. This makes it all that more important to learn as much as you can about the disease to avoid developing it and understanding the symptoms to know if perhaps you or a loved one has it. Below we’ll cover the symptoms, causes, and treatment for rheumatic heart disease to keep you in the know about this condition.
Group A Streptococcus Bacteria
It all starts with a strep infection. Yep, this terrible heart condition starts with a sore throat or a rash. If left untreated or undertreated, group A streptococcus can develop into rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that can affect the brain, heart, skin, and joints says Johns Hopkins Medicine. It can happen at any age, but is most common in children ages 5 to 15 years old.
Rheumatic fever typically begins one to five weeks after the strep infection. The symptoms will vary greatly depending on which areas of the body the bacteria has affected. Some of the symptoms may include fever, painful joints, small painless bumps under the skin, fatigue, rash, and uncontrollable jerky movements says Children’s Wisconsin.