Acute rheumatic fever, colloquially known as cardiac rheumatism, is a rheumatic disease that develops after pharyngitis (throat infection) caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus. It typically occurs 2 to 3 weeks after pharyngitis. The disease causes inflammatory damage to organs containing connective tissue. Cardiac rheumatism, which affects the connective tissues, skin, brain, and heart in the body, leads to heart valve disease, leading to permanent dysfunction of the heart. Failure of the heart valves to function properly leads to the formation of thickness and stenosis in the valve, causing blood to leak from the valves. The symptoms of the disease, especially seen in children between the ages of 5 and 15, go away on their own if left untreated. However, in the following period, complaints such as shortness of breath, palpitations, and fatigue are seen due to the permanent dysfunction caused by the disease in the heart. Therefore, cardiac rheumatism must be treated. In the presence of this highly contagious disease, the person should isolate himself from the society and rest at home during the treatment.
Therefore, cardiac rheumatism and Rheumatic Heart Disease are types of heart disease that are not congenital, that is, they develop later and, more importantly, can be prevented or kept under control. Despite this, it is one of the biggest causes of subsequent heart diseases, especially in developing countries.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATIC FEVER?
- Arthritis (painful, tender joints) It most commonly occurs on the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists.
- If there is heart involvement, signs of heart failure such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat
- Symptoms of chorea (jerky, uncontrollable body movements)
- Rarely, nodules (painless bumps) near the joints or a rash in the form of pink rings with a clear center.
If rheumatic heart disease develops after rheumatic fever;
- A new heart murmur
- Growth in the heart
- The fluid around the heart can be monitored.
What diseases does heart rheumatism cause?
After the disappearance of the early symptoms, the effect of the disease on the body does not appear immediately. Discomforts caused by the disease appear years later. Some of the permanent dysfunctions caused by cardiac rheumatism are as follows:
Heart Inflammation: Heart inflammation, also known as carditis in medical terminology, causes complaints such as chest pain, palpitations, and breathing pain. It is characterized by the presence of a heart murmur. It occurs as an insufficiency or stenosis of the valve 10 to 20 years after the febrile stage.
Arthritis: Arthritis, also known as joint inflammation among people, is a disease that involves large joints such as the knees, elbows, hands, and ankles, causes pain, limits movement, and causes heat and redness in the joints. Pain in one of the joints often changes to a different joint within a few weeks. Symptoms increase with advancing age.
Skin Rashes: This rarely seen ailment is characterized by a round-shaped, pale center and a reddish rash on the skin surface.
Skin Nodules: They appear as hard and painless swellings on the outer surface of the joints.
Sydenham's chorea: Sydenham's chorea, which is characterized by involuntary and sudden jumps in the face, tongue, arms, and legs, is seen more frequently in girls and usually together with carditis.
Who Gets Heart Rheumatism?
Cardiac rheumatism is usually seen in children. Infection is frequently observed in childhood, that is, between the ages of 5 and 15 years. After children, it is most common in women. It is seen at a rate of 50 percent in patients with acute rheumatic disease, regardless of gender.
Does Heart Valve Rheumatism Go Completely?
Currently, there is no treatment that can completely cure heart valve rheumatism. Physicians should follow patients diagnosed with rheumatic fever or cardiac rheumatism very closely, so that early intervention can be provided for any problems that may occur.
It may be necessary to use antibiotics regularly to prevent the development of heart valve rheumatism in individuals with rheumatic fever. At the same time, anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed to control the inflammation that occurs during the course of this disease.
How Is Heart Rheumatism Treated?
The treatment approach to cardiac rheumatism can be examined in two parts: "prevention treatment" and "long-term control treatment". The basic preventive treatment approach includes treating throat infections caused by streptococcal-derived bacteria with antibiotic drugs. If people have already been diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever, drugs that reduce inflammation are also used as part of the control treatment.
Cardiac rheumatism is a disease that can progress to heart failure over time.