Rheumatic Fever

What causes rheumatic fever?

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory condition that may develop approximately 14-28 days after infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. About 5% of those with untreated strep infection will develop rheumatic fever. Although group A Streptococcus bacterial infections are highly contagious, rheumatic fever is not spread from person to person. The exact underlying cause of the condition is not well understood and it is unclear why some people with strep infections go on to develop rheumatic fever, while others do not. However, some scientists suspect that an exaggerated immune response in genetically susceptible people may play a role in the development of the condition.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How is rheumatic fever diagnosed?

A diagnosis of rheumatic fever is usually based on the following:

The diagnosis can also be supported by blood tests that confirm the presence of certain proteins that increase in response to inflammation (called acute- phase reactants) and tend to be elevated in rheumatic fever. Additional tests may be recommended to rule out other conditions that cause similar features.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Is rheumatic fever inherited?

Rheumatic fever is likely inherited in a multifactorial manner, which means it is caused by multiple genes interacting with each other and with environmental factors. The condition is thought to occur in genetically susceptible children who are infected with group A Streptococcus bacteria and live in poor social conditions. Some studies suggest that differences in the expression of various genes involved in the immune response may contribute to rheumatic fever susceptibility.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with rheumatic fever?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with rheumatic fever depends on the severity of the heart involvement at the initial diagnosis. Severe carditis (inflammation of the heart) is associated with a poor prognosis and generally leads to rheumatic heart disease. People with a history of rheumatic fever have a high risk of developing recurrent episodes of the condition, which can cause progressive (worsening over time) heart damage. Prophylactic low dose antibiotics can significantly improve prognosis in many cases by preventing these recurrences.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might rheumatic fever be treated?

Treatment of rheumatic fever usually consists of antibiotics to treat the underlying group A Streptococcus bacterial infection and anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or corticosteroids. Because people with a history of rheumatic fever have a high risk of developing recurrent episodes of the condition, low dose antibiotics are often continued over a long period of time to prevent recurrence.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) 22100 Gratiot Avenue
Eastpointe, MI, 48021, United States
Phone: 586-776-3900 Toll Free: 800-598-4668 Fax : 586-776-3903 Email: aarda@aarda.org Url: https://www.aarda.org/
Name: World Heart Federation 32, rue de Malatrex 1201 Geneva
Phone: (+41 22) 807 03 20 Email: info@worldheart.org Url: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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