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Health Corners
Acquired Heart Diseases

Infective Heart Disease

Some of the common infective heart diseases are:

  • Rheumatic Heart Disease
  • Infective Endocarditis
  • Infective Myocarditis
  • Infective Pericarditis

Rheumatic Heart Disease

This is a condition where the valves of the heart are damaged due to rheumatic fever. Damaged heart valves can cause serious problems. If untreated, it could lead to congestive heart failure. Some valve problems occur immediately after an attack of rheumatic fever. Some may happen after many years.

Damage that has occurred to the valves cannot be reversed. But further deterioration or recurrence can be avoided, by treatment of rheumatic fever and subsequent medication.

Rheumatic fever usually occurs sometime after a “strep throat” infection. This is caused by streptococcus A bacteria.

Symptoms of a Strep Throat infection are :

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Swelling under the jaw
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pain

Rheumatic fever may develop after a strep throat infection. It occurs usually in children between 5 and 15 years of age. Symptoms of this disease can vary but the classic symptoms are:

  • Swellings in the joints
  • Pain in the joints
  • Nodules on the skin.
  • Fever
  • A round or snake like rash on the trunk
  • Involvement of the layers of the heart which might manifest as Chest pain, breathing difficulty etc
  • Shaky, un cordinated movements of the face, hands and feet

Treatment

The condition is treated with antibiotics and anti inflammatory medicine. In severe cases steroids are advised. Bed rest is advised. After completion of treatment too, the patient will be required to be on anti biotics as long as it is required.

Prevention

Prompt treatment of strep throat infection in children.

Early diagnosis of rheumatic fever and effective treatment can save the heart being affected.

With the use of antibiotics in the treatment of strep throat and rheumatic fever, the incidence of rheumatic heart disease has come down. However, incidence is still reported in crowded areas like inner cities, urban poor, socially and economically backward populations.

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