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Rheumatic heart – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, June 28, 2018 by

Rheumatic heart disease is a disease common in developing countries which causes most of the cardiovascular deaths in children. This health condition is caused by rheumatic fever and is defined as the reduced functional capacity of the heart due to inflammatory changes in the myocardium or scarring of the valves. Rheumatic heart disease happens when there’s an abnormal autoimmune response to group A streptococci infection.

It is responsible for at least 250,000 deaths among young people annually worldwide.

Known risk factors and symptoms of rheumatic heart

Some of the risk factors of rheumatic heart disease include:

  • Poverty
  • Overcrowding
  • Reduced access to medical care
  • Group A streptococci infection

A patient suffering from this disease may experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in the chest areas
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Heart murmur

Since this rheumatic heart is a result of rheumatic fever, these signs and symptoms may also appear:

  • Swelling of joints
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Small, hard, round bumps under the skin
  • Sudden jerky movements
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody nose
  • Fever

Body systems affected by rheumatic heart

If rheumatic heart disease is left untreated, further complications may occur, such as:

  • Ruptured heart valve – A medical emergency which requires a surgery to replace or repair the damaged valve.
  • Heart failure – Mostly caused by severely narrowed or leaking heart valve.
  • Bacterial endocarditis – An infection which affects the inner lining of the heart.
  • Complications for pregnant women

Food items or nutrients that may prevent rheumatic heart

Proper nutrition and balanced diet can help take care of the heart. To prevent or relieve rheumatic heart disease, the following must be added in one’s diet:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

Meanwhile, the list below must be consumed in moderation:

  • Calories
  • Saturated fats and trans-fatty fats
  • Meat
  • Cholesterol

Treatments, management options for rheumatic heart

The following are natural, home remedies used to treat heart disease:

  • Garlic – It is proven effective in keeping blood pressure low, addressing high cholesterol issues and coronary heart disease.
  • Hawthorn – It helps increase blood flow to the heart.
  • Arjuna – A known Ayurvedic herb for heart conditions which helps strengthen cardiac muscle, reduces arterial congestion and lowers blood pressure.
  • Chinese hibiscus – It contains antioxidant compounds that help address atherosclerosis and heart disease problems.
  • Turmeric – Its ingredient called curcumin is known for maintaining heart health.
  • Cayenne – Its compound called capsaicin helps to treat heart and circulatory problems.
  • Alfalfa – Good in preventing cardiovascular problems.
  • Fenugreek – It is great in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis
  • Green tea – It is a powerful antioxidant that helps improve the health of cells responsible for the formation of the innermost lining of the heart and blood vessels.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity can help maintain the body’s wellness which is necessary to keep the heart healthy.

Where to learn more


Rheumatic heart disease is a result of rheumatic fever caused by a streptococci infection. It is common among young people and is the top most cause of cardiovascular mortality in children. Those who live in poverty, are situated in overcrowded places, and have little access to medical care are more prone to contracting this disease.

Symptoms of the rheumatic heart include difficulty in breathing, pain in the chest areas, swelling of the feet and ankles, and heart murmur. Meanwhile, it could lead to more serious complications, such as ruptured valve heart, heart failure, infection in the heart, and complications for pregnant women.

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes is beneficial to keep the heart healthy and away from diseases such as rheumatic heart.

Adding garlic, Hawthorne, Arjuna, Chinese hibiscus, turmeric, cayenne, alfalfa, fenugreek, green tea, and exercise to your health regimen can help address any heart disease.

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