Rheumatic Heart Disease

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What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD), is a medical condition in which the heart valves are severely damaged by repeated episodes of rheumatic fever, which is an autoimmune inflammatory reaction to a sore throat mainly caused by Streptococcus Pygones (group A streptococcus), which turns out to be contagious in several ways. The recurring strep throat infections makes the immune system to act against the tissues of the body including inflaming and scarring of heart valves, this lead to rheumatic fever that in long term may converge to be RHD.

The source of epilepsy is the electrical circuits in the brain. Abnormal electrical events in the brain can cause seizures of different kinds. Epilepsy can occur due to multiple reasons including complications during birth of the baby, brain injury, stroke, brain tumours, brain infections, and abnormal development of brain can be the main cause for epilepsy, although the exact reason may remain unknown in many of the cases. Epilepsy can sometimes be related to genetic factors as well.

Epilepsy symptoms can vary according to type of seizures. A focal seizure may originate from a specific part of the brain and will manifest accordingly. A big seizure or generalised seizure is the most common type of recognised seizures. However various other types include transient confusional state, state of starring look with unresponsiveness, some abnormal movements like chewing type, swallowing, rubbing hands or speaking abnormally for a very brief period. Some of the seizures may have just up rolling of eyes with head and eyes going to one side and may have twisting of either arms or hands.

Untreated seizures can have serious results and cause harm especially related to fall and injuries to various body parts.

The common understanding and public perception regarding epilepsy is often a greater challenge than the seizures itself. Lack of awareness in general public, schools and various organizations leads to stigma of epilepsy. A person with epilepsy should be able to disclose about epilepsy in a healthy and comfortable environment including school, colleges and working places.

Symptoms of Rheumatic Fever
Symptoms of Heart Valve Damage associated with RHD
People at Risk


  • Fever
  • Painful joints
  • Pain that flows between different joints and fatigue
  • Jerky uncontrollable body movements
  • Heart murmur


  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breadth
  • Swelling of the stomach, hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat

Who are the people at Risk?

Rheumatic fever is mostly found in children and adolescents, especially in that region where poverty is at its peak and the heath care services are not advanced. People residing in overcrowded and poorly maintained locations are at the highest risk.

Even though it has been eradicated from many countries, the disease remains rampant in many of the Asian and African countries, specifically the sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the South Pacific.


The most widely used phrase, “Prevention is better than Cure.” RHD can be prevented. The root cause of RHD, i.e., the rheumatic fever must be prevented at any cost. Use of all the necessary antibiotics may prevent the occurrence of rheumatic fever. Long term use of antibiotics is the most essential requirement to prevent the frequent recurrences rheumatic fever. Along with antibiotics, specialists may also prescribe anti-inflammatory treatment and anticonvulsant medications to treat rheumatic fever, which in long term will lead to the prevention of rheumatic heart disease.

Talking about the large scale prevention, effective management of streptococcal sore throats, well maintained localities, appropriate sanitation etc., will turn to be of a great help. 

How is it diagnosed?


A history of strep infection or rheumatic fever is the key to the diagnosis of Rheumatic Heart Disease. Specialist will do the following to diagnose the rheumatic fever:

How is it treated?


No profound cure has been discovered and the condition remains permanent. Though it has come to the notice that the Antibiotic therapy has sharply reduced the incidence and mortality rate of rheumatic fever, which is extremely beneficial for preventing RHD. Patients with severely damaged heart valves need to undergo surgery to replace and repair he heart valves. Since the heart valves are damaged, medications that make the blood thin too may be required.

When do I contact the doctor?

You need to consult the doctor immediately in case of seizures and blackouts. While some of these symptoms may be a result of other medical condition, it is always advisable to receive immediate medical attention. Repeated seizures can cause serious injury and must never be ignored.