Rheumatic heart disease during Pregnancy

Rheumatic heart disease during Pregnancy

What is rheumatic heart disease?

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition which affects the valves of the heart and causes quite a bit of damage to them. Research suggests that about fifteen million people from around the world suffer from rheumatic heart disease and nearly five hundred thousand new cases of this disease are reported every year. About two hundred thousand of the new cases die each year.

What is the cause of rheumatic heart disease?

Rheumatic heart disease is caused by a condition known as Rheumatic Fever which itself occurs as a result of a number of risk factors such as an infection of the throat by a bacterium called group A streptoccus, family history of rheumatic fever, history of dental surgery, overcrowding, poor sanitation, having a weak immune system etc.

What are the signs and symptoms of rheumatic heart disease?

Rheumatic heart disease damages the valves of the heart and by doing that, this condition disrupts the proper functioning of the heart. An individual might initially have no symptoms but eventually present with fever, chest pain, heart palpitation, shortness of breath on exertion or when lying down, swelling of the limbs and episodes of fainting. However, what specific signs and symptoms a particular person, regardless of age, gender and race, with this disease might complain about really depends on the extent of damage done to the valves of that individual’s heart.

Rheumatic heart disease in a pregnant woman

Scientists state that a pregnant woman is twice as likely to develop rheumatic heart disease as compared to a woman who is not pregnant. A woman who is known to have suffered from rheumatic heart disease in the past should get herself properly looked after by her doctor as research has shown that during pregnancy the volume of blood being pumped by the heart increases upto 50% of the normal range. This increase in volume leads to additional amount of pressure on the heart to perform its function effectively and a condition which does damage to the heart valves would mean that the heart will not be as efficient as it should be in normal circumstances, thereby causing all kinds of health issues in the affected pregnant woman such as shortness of breath and fainting spells.

Diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease in pregnant women

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition which could potentially be fatal to anyone who has it. This holds true for both pregnant women and babies as both of them have very weak immune systems as compared to the general population thereby making them highly susceptible to rheumatic heart disease. Doctors have come up with different methods to diagnose whether or not someone has this condition including a history of throat infection, a history of rheumatic fever, looking at the signs and symptoms,by performing a physical examination and by getting an echo-cardiography done.

Treatment of rheumatic heart disease in pregnant women

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition which can be managed if proper care is given to the individual suffering from it. There are a number of different ways to provide such a person, with the required treatment including making sure that rheumatic heart disease does not recur by seeing to it that any risk factors of this condition are promptly dealt with such as prescribing antibiotics for an infection of the throat, adequate monitoring of anti-coagulation therapy should be done for individuals with a history of atrial fibrillation or those who have artificial heart valves. The individual should be provided access to heart specialists for consultation through regular appointments as well as a surgeon in order to replace the damaged valves of the heart.