Rheumatic heart disease describes a group of short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) heart disorders that are caused by Rheumatic fever.

The disease affects the world’s poorest, most vulnerable populations and imposes heavy costs on the health systems that can least afford it. If left untreated, Rheumatic heart disease can lead to heart valve damage, stroke, heart failure, and death, says the World Heart Federation.

RHD is the most common heart disease in young people under the age of 25 and often begins in childhood as Strep throat and can progress to serious heart damage that kills or harms teenagers and young adults.

Although virtually eliminated in Europe and North America, the disease remains common in Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the South Pacific, and in impoverished pockets of developed nations, the Foundation adds.

33 million people around the world are affected by RHD

Symptoms of Rheumatic Heart Diseases

The Heart and Stoke Foundation says symptoms of heart valve problems, which are often the result of Rheumatic heart disease can include

  • chest discomfort or pain
  • irregular or rapid heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue or weakness
  • light-headedness, dizziness or near fainting
  • swelling of the stomach, feet, or ankles

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