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Rheumatic fever (RF)
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Rheumatic fever

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Bacterial

Rheumatic fever is a delayed consequence of an untreated upper respiratory infection with group A streptococci (streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat). Rheumatic fever can affect many parts of your body - heart, joints, nervous system and skin. Although rheumatic fever can occur at any age, it most frequently occurs in people between the ages of 6 and 15 years. The disease is twice as common in women as it is in men.

Symptoms of rheumatic fever generally appear within 5 weeks after an untreated streptococcal (strep) throat infection. Most cases of strep throat don't lead to rheumatic fever. In fact, even in untreated cases, only about 3 percent of people with strep throat develop rheumatic fever.

Complications

During a first rheumatic fever attack, about 50 percent of people develop heart inflammation. The heart inflammation from rheumatic fever doesn't always result in permanent damage. However, one or more of the heart's valves may be scarred. Permanent heart damage due to rheumatic fever is known as rheumatic heart disease. In many cases, heart damage isn't discovered until years later.

In rare cases of rheumatic fever, the inflammation causes so much damage to the heart muscle that it leads to heart failure. In other cases, a scarred heart valve may prevent adequate blood flow or may permit backward flow of blood. If there's serious impairment to the function of your heart valves, surgery may be needed to repair or replace the damaged valve or valves.

Rheumatic fever can also affect these parts of your body:

  • Joints. Often, several joints are affected with painful swelling, redness and sensation of heat.
  • Brain. If acute rheumatic fever affects the brain, loss of coordination and uncontrolled movement of the limbs and face may occur. These movements are called chorea — from the Greek word choreia, which means "choral dance." They're also sometimes called Sydenham's chorea, rheumatic chorea or St. Vitus' dance. Chorea occurs in about 10 percent of all rheumatic fever cases. Chorea usually subsides or disappears within weeks to months.
  • Skin. The disease can produce broad patches or irregularly round, pink to faint-red areas on your skin (erythema marginatum). Lumps or nodules may appear beneath normal-appearing skin.

Rheumatic fever > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyclinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:05 AM