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Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition in which the heart valves are damaged by rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic fever begins with a strep throat (also called strep pharyngitis). Strep throat is caused by Streptococcus bacteria. It is the most common bacterial infection of the throat.

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease. It can affect many of the body's connective tissues especially those of the heart, joints, brain or skin. Anyone can get acute rheumatic fever, but it usually occurs in children five to 15 years old. The rheumatic heart disease that results can last for life.

Symptoms may include:
painful, tender, red swollen joints
pain in one joint that migrates to another one
heart palpitations
chest pain
shortness of breath
skin rashes
small, painless nodules under the skin

The symptoms of rheumatic fever usually appear about three weeks after the strep throat.

The best defense against rheumatic heart disease is to prevent rheumatic fever from ever occurring. By treating strep throat with penicillin or other antibiotics, doctors can usually stop acute rheumatic fever from developing.

People who've already had rheumatic fever are more susceptible to recurrent attacks and heart damage. That's why they're given continuous monthly or daily Antibiotic treatment, maybe for life. If their heart has been damaged by rheumatic fever, they're also at increased risk for developing infective endocarditis (also known as bacterial endocarditis), an infection of the heart's lining or valves.

Taking a proper heart disease diet is very important to prevent and control this disease. Taking a good dose of whole grain cereals, pulses, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk and milk products, lean meat and eggs and plenty of water can help in maintaining an overall good health.

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