Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that occurs after one has had a streptococcal infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is does not involve any suppuration and is systemic often affecting the cardiac, CNS, skin and the subcutaneous tissues beneath the skin. The major organ that gets affected is the heart.
When Rheumatic fever progresses to the chronic stage, it causes Rheumatic heart disease which is a disease that affects all the cardiac layers.
The etiology of Rheumatic Fever is a precedence of group A beta-haemolytic streptococcal infection of the throat or the upper respiratory tract.
The body of an individual susceptible to Rheumatic Fever responds to streptococcal infection of the throat by producing antibodies against the streptococcal bacteria.
The M-protein molecules of streptoccal bacteria mimic those of the human body and hence antibodies produced against the bacteria also act against the human body tissues.
An autoimmune reaction therefore occurs causing cardiac lesions and extracardiac lesions such as those in the lungs, central nervous system and the pleura, subcutaneous tissue and the skin, periarticular tissue, synovial membrane and the erterial wall.
Presence of any two of the following are used as the clinical diagnosis of RF:
Laboratory tests confirming streptococcal throat infection are used as supportive evidence for the clinical diagnosis.
Major and minor criteria
One may recover completely if the heart is not involved. With involvement of the heart, RF often recurs. The complications of RF include:
However, damaged valves