According to the Mayo Clinic, persons with rheumatic fever may also experience “jerky, uncontrollable body movements” and “outbursts of unusual behavior, such as crying or inappropriate laughing.”
More importantly for heart health, rheumatic fever may lead to rheumatic heart disease, with the inflammation damaging the heart and heart valves. The resulting heart damage from rheumatic heart disease is permanent and has life-long consequences, including:
*Valve stenosis. Decreased blood flow due to narrowing of the heart valve; complications include heart failure, heart enlargement, blood clots, lung congestion, and atrial fibrillation; medications may be prescribed to lessen symptoms; valve repair or replacement required to treat mitral valve stenosis.
*Valve regurgitation. Blood flows in the wrong direction due to a leak in the valve; complications include heart failure, atrial fibrillation, endocarditis or infection of inner lining of the heart, and pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure in lung arteries; medications may be prescribed to lessen symptoms; valve repair or replacement required.
Rheumatic heart disease may also result in permanent heart muscle damage, leaving the heart unable to pump adequate supplies of blood. Some people with rheumatic heart disease develop atrial fibrillation which affects the upper chambers of the heart causing irregular or out of sync heart beats. Another common complication from rheumatic heart disease is heart failure.
One of the easiest ways to prevent rheumatic heart disease is to prevent rheumatic fever. If you suspect strep throat, it’s important to not only seek medical attention early but to take the entire antibiotic as prescribed.
If strep throat is promptly -- and completely -- treated, it’s less common for rheumatic fever, along with its serious complications, to develop.
Rheumatic Fever. The Mayo Clinic. 21 Jan 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatic-fever/DS00250/DSECTION=complications
Strep Throat. The Mayo Clinic. 26 Jun 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strep-throat/DS00260
Mitral Valve Stenosis. The Mayo Clinic. 15 Sept 2011.