Rheumatic Fever, Heart Disease and Sleep Apnea

Before antibiotic medicines became widely used, rheumatic fever was the largest cause of valve disease. Rheumatic fever is a condition that is a complication of untreated strep throat. Strep throat is caused by a group A streptococcal infection found in the throat.

Rheumatic fever can damage body tissues by causing them to swell, but its greatest danger lies in the damage it can do to your heart. More than half of the time, rheumatic fever leads to scarring of the heart’s valves. This scarring can narrow the valve and make it harder for the valve to open properly or to close completely. In turn, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body. This valve damage can lead to a condition called rheumatic heart disease, which, in time, can lead to congestive heart failure.

The connection between CHF and sleep apnea is that one often follows the other. If you treat your sleep apnea with CPAP Therapy then you may just help to combat the heart disease. There is good evidence to believe that there is a correlation between heart disease and sleep apnea.

Rheumatic fever is not an infection itself, rather the result of an untreated strep infection. When the body senses the strep infection, it sends antibodies to fight it. Sometimes, these antibodies attack the tissues of joints or the heart instead. If the antibodies attack the heart they can cause the heart valves to swell, which can lead to scarring of the valve “doors.” (The doors are called leaflets.) The scarred leaflets make it harder for the valve to either open or close properly, or both.

The symptoms of rheumatic fever usually begin 1 to 6 weeks after a strep infection. The symptoms are fever, joint pain or swelling in your wrists, elbows, knees, or ankles. Small bumps under the skin over elbows or knees (called nodules). Maybe a small raised red rash on the chest, back, or stomach, experience stomach pain or feeling less hungry. Weakness, shortness of breath, or feeling very tired. Please remember that Rheumatic Fever needs immediate medical attention!

The Dream Team at Advanced Sleep Therapy consists of a team of Respiratory Practitioners, as well as an RN Nurse Clinician who will assist you in starting out with the proper CPAP treatment equipment right in the comfort of your home and then provide ongoing monitoring to your Doctor. Advanced Sleep Therapy located in Arlington Heights has been serving Chicagoland for over fourteen years. Their knowledge and experience in CPAP machines, CPAP humidifiers, CPAP masks, CPAP headgear and all cleaning and CPAP accessories is outstanding, which is what makes them JCAHO Gold Seal Certified providers.

Don’t have insurance? No worries, you can always order online from our sister company Breathe Easy CPAP who is proud to offer a complete line of CPAP machines, CPAP humidifiers, CPAP masks, CPAP headgear and all cleaning and CPAP accessories.