WHAT IS RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition that may cause permanent and irreversible damage to the heart valves due to rheumatic fever. The most common valve affected due to rheumatic disease is the mitral valve. Rheumatic fever is a condition caused due to no treatment or under-treatment of infection caused due to Group-A β-hemolytic Streptococci. The body's autoimmune reaction against this organism may result in inflammation in several organs such as joints, heart, and skin.

HOW WOULD I KNOW THAT I HAVE RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

Several symptoms may indicate that you may be suffering from rheumatic heart disease. Some of them are:

  • Chest Pain

  • Swelling

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Stomach, hands, and feet swelling

  • Irregular or fast heartbeat

  • Waking from sleep with an urge to stand or sit

  • Fainting

  • Stroke

  • Fever due to infection in the heart valves

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

Several factors increase the risk for rheumatic heart disease. Some of them are:

  • Untreated or under-treated Streptococcus infection.

  • Recurrent throat infection

  • Exposure to Streptococcus due to crowding

  • Poverty and low access to medical care.

WHAT IF I AM PREGNANT AND DIAGNOSED WITH RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

There is an increased risk of complications to both the mother and fetus due to rheumatic heart disease in pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is an increase in blood volume. This increased volume exerts excessive pressure on the heart valves. In rheumatic heart disease, high pressure on the heart valves causes an increased risk of complications in the mother and the fetus. Rheumatic heart disease during pregnancy may result in the death of the mother, fetus, or both, heart failure, and preterm delivery.

HOW DOES MY DOCTOR DIAGNOSE WHETHER I AM SUFFERING FROM RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

There are several options for diagnosing rheumatic heart disease. Some of them are:

  • Physical examination: In many cases, auscultation may help in the screening of rheumatic heart disease. The doctor tries to determine the heart murmur. However, the murmuring sound is absent in many patients with rheumatoid heart disease.

  • Medical history: The doctor may also seek information about the past streptococcus infection.

  • Electrocardiogram: It helps in analyzing the electrical activity of the heart. It helps in diagnosing cardiac arrhythmia and damage to heart muscles.

  • Chest X-ray: Chest X-ray will help the doctor to rule out the enlargement of the heart.

  • Echocardiogram: It is one of the most vital imaging techniques to diagnose the presence of valve damage. Several other related conditions that can be diagnosed through the echocardiogram include accumulation of fluid around the heart, enlargement of the heart, and reverse blood flow from the damaged valves.

  • Cardiac MRI: Your doctor may also advise you to undergo a cardiac MRI. It will provide more comprehensive information about the valve health and status of heart muscles.

  • Blood tests: The doctor may prescribe blood tests to determine the presence of inflammation and infection.

WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS IN CASE I AM SUFFERING FROM RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

Treatment depends upon the severity of the disease. The primary aim of the treatment is to minimize the complications and prevent the progression of the disease. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and anti-inflammatory to control inflammation.

In case of mild valve leakage, you may not require any treatment other than frequent monitoring. However, the doctor may recommend repairing or replacing the damaged valve in case of severe valve damage.

HOW RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE COULD COMPLICATE MY OVERALL HEALTH?

If you are suffering from rheumatic heart disease, you are at increased risk of developing various other conditions. These are ruptured heart valve, heart failure, bacterial endocarditis, and high mortality and morbidity rate in mother and fetus during pregnancy and delivery.

HOW CAN I PREVENT RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

The best way to prevent rheumatic heart disease is to diagnose and treat acute rheumatic fever as soon as possible. Always take the antibiotics strictly as prescribed by the doctor. Do not discontinue the antibiotic course even if you are feeling better.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE IF I SUFFER FROM RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE?

You should visit the doctor for a scheduled check-up to determine the status of heart health. Follow all the instructions of your doctor. Your doctor may also advise you to avoid certain activities.

Source

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/rheumatic-heart-disease

Tags

Risk factors-comorbidities,Metabolic and Mixed disorders,Rheumatic Diseases,Rheumatic Heart Disease