Rheumatic Fever and its Impact on Heart Health

 Rheumatic Fever and its Impact on Heart Health

In the era before the widespread use of antibiotic medicines, rheumatic fever stood as a significant contributor to valve-related heart conditions. This condition arises as a complication of untreated strep throat, an infection attributed to group A streptococci commonly found in the throat.

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 Rheumatic Fever and its Impact on Heart Health

The ramifications of rheumatic fever extend beyond mere discomfort, as it has the potential to inflict considerable harm on various body tissues, inducing inflammation and swelling. However, the most perilous consequence lies in the havoc it wreaks on the heart. Shockingly, more than fifty percent of cases involving rheumatic fever result in the formation of scar tissue on the heart's valves. This scarring process can constrict the valve's opening, impeding proper functionality during both the opening and closing phases. Consequently, the heart is forced into increased exertion in order to pump blood effectively to the body's diverse regions. Ultimately, this valve impairment can progress into a condition known as rheumatic heart disease, a malady that, over time, might culminate in congestive heart failure.

It's vital to comprehend that rheumatic fever isn't an infection in and of itself, but rather an aftermath of an untreated streptococcal infection. When the body detects the presence of streptococcal infection, it dispatches antibodies to combat the intruder. On certain occasions, these antibodies erroneously target joint or heart tissues, triggering adverse effects. Should the heart be the target, the antibodies can prompt inflammation in the heart valves, potentially leading to the formation of scars on the valve's "doors," medically referred to as leaflets. These scarred leaflets impose hindrances on the valve's optimal opening and closing mechanisms.

Manifestations of rheumatic fever typically manifest within a span of one to six weeks following a streptococcal infection. Symptoms encompass fever, joint pain, and swelling in regions like wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. Additionally, subcutaneous nodules—small protrusions beneath the skin—might appear over elbows or knees. Another possible indicator could be a raised red rash on the chest, back, or abdomen, accompanied by sensations of stomach pain or reduced appetite. Moreover, individuals might encounter sensations of weakness, breathlessness, or extreme fatigue.

It is imperative to underscore the urgency of seeking immediate medical attention in cases of suspected Rheumatic Fever.