Rheumatic Heart Disease
What Is Rheumatic Heart Disease?
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a health condition in which one or more heart valves get damaged. This condition is preceded by acute rheumatic fever (ARF), in which valves get damaged and the damage remains untreated. These untreated valves become leaky or so tight that the normal blood flow gets interrupted.
Rheumatic Heart Disease Symptoms
Rheumatic heart disease symptoms do not always show up. When they do appear, they might include the following:
- Pain in chest
- Palpitations in heart
- Breathlessness while physical or mental efforts
- Having problems in breathing when lying down (Also known as orthopnoea)
- Waking from sleep
- Swelling (Also called oedema)
Who Is At Risk?
There are certain factors that make a person more prone to rheumatic heart disease. The foremost factor amongst these risk factors is the untreated and uncared strep infection. Children who get strep infections frequently have high chances of developing this condition.
RHD occurs mostly in undeveloped countries with the least medical facility. People who are under the age of 25 are most affected by rheumatic heart disease.
Rheumatic Heart Disease Causes
The list of rheumatic heart disease causes is not very large. The only reason that causes RHD is rheumatic fever. It is a disease that affects mostly connective tissues like skin, brain, and heart.
A type of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus causes rheumatic fever. Within two-three weeks without treatment, the bacteria can cause throat infection.
One or more out of the total four heart valves get damaged and scarred by this disease. Valves start leaking or get narrowed dows, resulting in improper functioning. The condition might further get complicated resulting in heart failure.
How Is Rheumatic Heart Disease Diagnosed?
Rheumatic heart disease diagnosis is simple, as the patient will have or had a history of strep infection. To check the presence of strep infection, blood tests or a throat culture might be taken by the doctor.
Some other methods to diagnose the condition are:
- Physical examination: A murmuring sound might be heard by the doctor while doing the physical exam. This sound is caused by the leakage of blood in the affected heart valves.
- Electrocardiogram: To check the presence of rheumatic heart disease, ECG is one of the common tests done by doctors. The vivid picture produced by the ECG show any damage done to the valves, blood leakage, or any other abnormality in blood pumping.
- Echocardiogram (Echo): Sound waves are used in echo to check the workings of heart chambers and valves. Any damage in the heart can be detected in the picture produced by echo sound waves.
- Chest X-ray: Any abnormality in heart size or lungs is checked by doing a chest X-ray.
- Cardiac Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test is taken to picture heart valves and muscles is MRI.
How Is Rheumatic Heart Disease Treated?
Rheumatic heart disease treatment depends upon the level of damage that has been to the heart valves by the disease. The following methods are used by the doctors as rheumatic heart disease cure:
- Prevention of rheumatic fever: The best cure possible for RHD is the early treatment of rheumatic fever. Medications are prescribed by doctors to cure strep throat infection and developing rheumatic fever again.
- Reduction of inflammation: Drugs are given to the patient of rheumatic fever to reduce the inflammation and damage done by the condition.
- Surgery: In the most severe cases, damaged valves are either removed or replaced surgically by doctors.
If you are someone who is looking to get diagnosed for RHD or get treatment, Care.Fit might be the right place for you. You can take an online appointment and connect directly with experienced specialists. We also provide the facility of online prescription and medical records. To know more, you can go to Care.Fit’s website or app.
How Can Rheumatic Heart Disease be Prevented?
Rheumatic heart disease can be prevented by treating strep infection and rheumatic fever at the right time. You should keep taking medications days even after the symptoms of rheumatic fever and strep infection get treated. Stopping the damage done by rheumatic fever, and preventing strep infections from reoccurring are the best preventive methods of rheumatic heart disease. It is better to prevent RHD from happening, as further complications of this condition might even prove fatal for the patient.