Rheumatic fever usually follows an untreated beta-haemolytic streptococcal throat infection in children.
It can affect many parts of the body, and may result in rheumatic heart disease, in which the heart valves are permanently damaged, and which may progress to heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and embolic stroke.
Rheumatic heart disease is the most commonly acquired heart disease in children, especially in developing countries. It is often found in communities in which extreme poverty exists.
Although far less prevalent than degenerative etiologies, rheumatic heart disease still represents 27% of native valve diseases in Europe. As the prevalence of degenerative diseases is low in young women, rheumatic heart disease accounts for the majority of acquired heart valve diseases which are poorly tolerated during pregnancy.
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD)