Do you know that a strep throat and fever, if untreated can lead to a heart operation? Yes you read it right, heart operation.

According to Dr. Premanand Ponoth – the Chief of Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgeon at Karen hospital, Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever in which the heart valves are damaged.

Rheumatic fever mostly affects children aged between 5-15 years and is an inflammatory disease which occurs about two to four weeks after a strep throat infection. If untreated, it can affect connective tissue throughout the body, especially in the heart, joints, brain and skin.

Some of the symptoms associated with rheumatic fever include lattice-like rash, Uncontrolled movements of arms, legs, or facial muscles, Swollen, tender, red and extremely painful joints, Weakness and shortness of breath, Nodules over swollen joints, Stomach pains Weight loss and Fatigue.

“Of late, most of the patients I have come across here in Kenya suffer from valve diseases- mainly rheumatic heart disease. And teachers are the first to encounter this disease even before doctors. If they can identify some of the symptoms then they can be able to help the kids before resorting to buying wrong over the counter drugs,” says Dr. Premanand Ponoth

Though chronic and fatal, rheumatic heart disease is curable. Treatment however varies on different individuals. Doctors look at a number of things in order to prescribe a treatment plan. These include a person’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, their overall health and medical history and extent of the disease.


By By Marimbet Kamau

Multimedia journalist

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