Rheumatic heart disease

Not all people who have rheumatic fever develop rheumatic heart disease. However, the best way to prevent rheumatic heart disease is to seek appropriate treatment for rheumatic fever. Cardiologists at American Hospital Dubai provide preventive treatment options to treat rheumatic fever and advanced solutions including minimally invasive surgeries for rheumatic heart disease if it develops.

Rheumatic heart disease involves permanent damage to heart valves and develops as a result of rheumatic fever when it isn’t diagnosed early and treated appropriately. Rheumatic fever occurs by strep infections that cause shortness of breath, chest discomfort, weakness, swollen and painful joints, lumps under the skin, lattice-like rashes on the skin, uncontrolled movements of limbs and neuromuscular movements, stomach pain, and weight loss. Symptoms typically appear 1 to 6 weeks after a bout of strep throat, and they may be too mild to be recognized at times.

Rheumatic fever can occur at any age, but children ages 5 to 15 are more vulnerable to get affected by it. Children with a history of repeated strep throat infections are at the highest risk for rheumatic heart disease. When you experience these symptoms or suspect them in your child, we recommend you to consult a trusted physician for an accurate diagnosis to prevent further complications such as Rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic heart disease develops over a period of time and can lead to heart failure.

Causes and Symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Disease:

Rheumatic fever can affect many connective tissues in the heart, while the heart valve becomes inflamed and scarred causing the valve to narrow or leak. The inflamed valve makes it challenging for the heart to function normally i.e. pump blood to the whole body.

A recent history of strep infection or rheumatic fever can determine the diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease, which can manifest itself as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling

Diagnosis of Rheumatic Heart Disease:

In order to determine the presence of rheumatic heart disease, people with a strep infection undergo a physical exam allowing the physician to check for any murmur that may signal blood leakage around the damaged valve, or hear rub that is caused by the sliding of inflamed heart tissues against each other.

Along with Echocardiogram (echo), Electrocardiogram (ECG), Chest X-ray, the doctor also conducts blood tests to look for infection and inflammation, and Cardiac MRI to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatment for Rheumatic Heart Disease:

Once the diagnosis is established, the multidisciplinary healthcare team determines an appropriate treatment plan based on:

  • The patient’s overall health and medical history
  • Extent and severity of the disease
  • The patient’s tolerance for specific medications or procedures
  • The patient’s preference

While the best treatment for rheumatic heart disease is prevention, conservative methods like medication and therapies are prescribed to treat symptoms and manage the condition. Medications involve antibiotics that have been proven highly effective in addressing strep throat and preventing acute rheumatic fever from developing.

In cases when the inflammation has damaged the heart valve, advanced treatment methods like surgical repair or replacement of the valve are indicated. At American Hospital Dubai’s Cardiology, our cardiac surgeons have a wealth of expertise in performing minimally invasive surgical procedures by using state-of-the-art technology to provide the optimal care and achieve the expected outcomes.     

Book an Appointment:

If you or your child suffer from rheumatic fever and are concerned about the potential complications including rheumatic heart disease, we encourage you to book an appointment with the best-in-class Consultant Cardiologists in Dubai using our secure online form and let our cardiac-care team take care of the rest.

American Hospital Panel of Doctors

Firas Raouf Alani

Consultant - Chief of Heart & Vascular Center

Arabic, English

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