Rheumatic heart disease refers to a variety of abnormal cardiac conditions which include heart valve scarring and endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart).
Rheumatic heart disease can be caused by rheumatic fever, which was once one of the prime killers of children. Rheumatic fever may cause inflammation of the heart valves and scarring of the valve leaflets. This can result in leaking valves or severe narrowing of the valve.
The most common symptom is a heart murmur, caused by abnormal blood flow across a scarred valve. There may be excessive bleeding and impairment of vision if microscopic blood clots that have formed in the heart block tiny blood vessels in the eye. Kidney function may slow in middle or later life. Irregular pulse, shortness of breath, and fainting spells are also common symptoms of rheumatic heart disease.
Many people who have suffered rheumatic heart disease have gone on to live extremely active lives, despite the effects. Although rheumatic heart disease is a serious matter, regular exercise, a sensible diet, and treatment can mean the difference in the quality of life.
When one suffers rheumatic heart disease and wants to start a regular exercise program they must consult their doctor. In some cases, it may be impossible for a patient to engage in vigorous physical activity, especially if the heart damage is advanced or severe.
People with rheumatic heart disease must also consult their doctor about antibiotic treatment before undergoing any dental or surgical procedures.