What is a Rheumatic heart disease, its symptoms and causes
Rheumatic heart disease is basically a heart condition in which the heart valves are permanently damaged due to rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is caused due to prolonged and untreated streptococcal infection that causes severe damage to the heart valves. The body immune system usually tries to fight the infection that causes inflammation in the body and valves but prolonged exposure to the infection leads to severely damaged heart valves. Children who are inaccessible to antibiotics, hygiene and a healthy diet especially in poor countries are at highest risk of having rheumatic fever that causes serious health related problems including heart failure which is among the biggest risk factors. Individuals who suffer from rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease require treatment and medications from the best cardiac doctors such as cardiologists in Indore.
What Causes Rheumatic Heart Disease?
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that affects connective tissues present in the heart, skin, joints and brain. Prolonged exposure to streptococcal infection and when it is left untreated it leads to inflammation of the heart valves and scarring which ultimately leads to heart failure. The infection causes narrowing and scarring of the heart valve by damaging it; which causes problems such as transportation of blood that hampers the heart to function normally. Rheumatic fever can affect any individual of any age group according to various research it is usually seen in children of under developed countries of age group 5 to 15 years.
Some Common Symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Disease
A person who catches rheumatic fever begins to show symptoms from 1st to 6 weeks; one can confuse it with a normal cough as they experience irritation in the throat. But according to the best cardiologist in Indore it is a warning sign of a mild infection that can cause severe complications if left untreated. Generally, the symptoms vary from person to person as it depends upon severity of the infection and the condition of the person. Some of the symptoms of rheumatic fever that leads to heart disease might include:
- Chest discomfort
- Red rashes
- Lumps under the skin
- Swollen joints (knee and ankles)
Some of the most noticeable symptoms of rheumatic heart disease that causes severe valve damage are
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Irregularity in the heartbeat
- Heart murmurs
- Swelling in stomach, hand and feet
Diagnosis of Rheumatic Heart Disease
People who suffer from rheumatic fever have streptococcus infection therefore the doctor usually tries to extract and prepare a throat culture or ask for a blood test in order to check the presence of streptococcus. The physician then ask for the complete medical history and try to perform a physical examination in order to diagnose the condition of the person and based upon his observation he might ask for test such as
Echocardiogram or echo which is a test that uses sound waves in order to check the condition of the heart chambers and the valves. The sound waves create a 3D picture of the heart. Doctors analyse the damage of the valve, swelling, scarring, leakage, fluid around heart, inflammation etc.
Electrocardiogram or ECG is the most basic test that is used in order to see the condition of the heart as it shows the electrical activity of the heartbeat, if there is any irregularity in the heartbeat. Based upon the observations from the ECG the doctor can analyze the condition of the person and might require other test as well.
Cardiac MRI is another imaging test that helps in taking a detailed picture of the heart in order to analyse the condition or the damage of the heart valves and the heart muscles.