Rheumatic Heart Disease

What causes Rheumatic Fever?

  • Rheumatic Fever is caused by “strep” germs
  • These germs like to stay in your throat and can cause rheumatic fever
  • If you get a sore throat or skin sores go to your health facility and get checked by a doctor or nurse.

Symptoms of rheumatic fever:

  • Joint pain and swelling, Fever, Jerky movements (chorea, less common)
  • Each time you have rheumatic fever, damage to your heart can happen
  • People living with rheumatic fever receive regular benzathine penicillin injections to help stop rheumatic fever from coming back and causing further damage to their heart
  • No one is born with rheumatic fever
  • Rheumatic fever is most common in school aged children from ages 5 – 15.

Prevent Rheumatic Fever and protect your heart

  • Help prevent rheumatic fever by keeping a clean living environment and maintaining a hygienic lifestyle
  • For any signs of sore throat and skin sores – seek medical attention – ask a nurse or doctor if it could be rheumatic fever.

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

  • Rheumatic heart disease is long term damage to your heart and is caused by rheumatic fever.
  • The door (or valve) is wounded or damaged by rheumatic fever causing leakage and backflow of blood
  • Rheumatic heart disease: usually develops after one or more episodes of rheumatic fever
  • Most commonly starts in school-aged children from 5 to 15
  • Affects nearly 1 child in every classroom in Fiji.

Stay healthy with regular Benza

  • The strep germ can be killed with a medicine called Benzathine Penicillin (Benza)
  • Benzathine (or benza) protects you and helps keep your heart strong
  • You need to take your benza even if you feel well.

 You need Benza every 4 weeks

  • Benza is given every 4 weeks and is available at any clinic near you
  • Because you have been diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease you need benza in your body all the time to kill any strep germs that enter your body
  • After four weeks your heart won’t be protected if you do not receive any benza.

 

… Stay well and have all your benza injections.

You can receive Benza Injection at any clinic anywhere even if you have:

  • changed address
  • missed injection for a very long time
  • lost your injection booklet
  • had surgery

You will only stop (cease) receiving your benza if the doctor tells you after an echocardiogram (echo) review.

It is important not to miss your injections because rheumatic fever can come back again and cause further damage to your heart.

Other appointments are important too

  • Echo review – You need your heart checked with a scan called an echocardiogram (echo). Talk to your doctor about your next echo appointment.
  • You need to be seen regularly by a specialist doctor at S.O.P.D clinic. If you miss your clinic date, don’t forget to re-book.
  • Clean and healthy teeth help keep the germs away.
  • Go to your dentist and get checked every 6 to 12 months
  • Participate in support group activities.

 Prevent Rheumatic Fever and RHD – How?

To prevent Rheumatic Fever coming back or RHD getting worse, we must:

  • avoid germs from entering our body by keeping our surroundings clean and living a healthy lifestyle
  • For any signs such as sore throat, skin sores, fever and joint pain go to the nurse/doctor immediately
  • If you know someone living with RF/RHD tell them not to miss any of their benza injections.

 Have you ever had surgery for Rheumatic Heart Disease?

  • The two most common RHD-related surgeries are valve replacement and valve repair.
  • You need to continue taking your benza even if you have had RHD-relatedsurgery
  • Be sure to take your regular INR test.
  • Take the exact warfarin dose as advised by your Doctor.

Remember, once you have had RHD-related surgery, you will need to receive benza for life.