Rheumatic Fever - How Technology Can Help Leap Forward

May 2021

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease of the joints, heart, and brain caused by bacteria. Once someone has had rheumatic fever, they are at risk for subsequent attacks of rheumatic fever and related complications. It talks about how much it impacts people's work days, personal lives, quality of life, wages lost each year when they miss school/work because of it. It also includes a brief paragraph on prevention which can be done by vaccination shots or through antibiotics if treated early enough. 

Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease that can strike those who have an underlying strep infection, most commonly during the winter months. It can be life-threatening and even lead to heart problems, and has a number of long-term effects like mitral valve prolapse. Luckily, there are a variety of treatments available such as penicillin or steroids. 

Rheumatic fever is a condition that can result from an untreated strep infection. It is a painful and serious disorder that results in damage to the heart, joints, skin and other organs. Rheumatic fever can occur following strep throat, scarlet fever or impetigo (a bacterial skin infection). 

Manifestations of the disease may not occur for up to four weeks after someone has been exposed to streptococcus bacteria. Rheumatic fever is typically diagnosed by taking a medical history to determine if someone had been suffering from a strep infection prior to the onset of symptoms. The medical professional will then conduct an examination of patient's heart, which may reveal abnormal sounds or evidence of inflammation (swelling). 

In addition to disease symptoms, the following may also indicate that someone has been stricken with rheumatic fever:  

The most common treatment for rheumatic fever is antibiotics. This can be achieved with penicillin, cephalexin or amoxicillin. If the streptococcus bacteria is still present in your system, it will probably be wiped out by these antibiotics. The body's immune system generally fights off the infection and leads to an apparent cure for this condition. However, some individuals will develop heart complications like heart murmurs or valvular leakage of blood (in an organ called a "mitral valve"). This may necessitate future treatments, like taking steroids. 

If the person comes down with rheumatic fever, their doctor may recommend they take steroids. The medical community is still divided on the use of steroids. Some doctors feel that in the case of rheumatic fever, they are very useful. Others feel that there is no empirical evidence to support steroid use and it is more harmful than helpful to administer them at this time. 

Rheumatic fever treatment is particularly important in cases where a mitral valve or heart murmur is present. If a heart murmur does not improve with antibiotics and doesn't disappear on its own within six months, the patient might have to undergo surgery for a double valve replacement as a last resort.

Rheumatic fever is a long-term condition that can cause permanent heart damage, rhythm disturbances, and inflammation of the joints. It's an autoimmune disorder caused by bacteria entering the body through a wound or through the mouth. 

In recent years, rheumatic fever has been aggravated by the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and Group A streptococcus (strep throat). This increases the likelihood that people with these types of infections will develop rheumatic fever. The spread of MRSA and Group A streptococcus among schoolchildren is an increasingly major public health concern in some regions.

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